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STARBUCKS PLAN MOVES AHEAD, WITH ALTERATION

A proposal by Starbucks to build a new coffeehouse on Elmwood Avenue needs a bit more blending, city officials agreed Tuesday after two public hearings on the matter.

Starbucks representatives will meet with their critics and city officials to redesign the exterior of the planned store at 933 Elmwood Ave. so it better fits the neighborhood. The matter then will go to the full Common Council meeting next Tuesday for final approval.

In back-to-back hearings, city planners and the Council's Legislation Committee moved forward on the Starbucks proposal Tuesday with little fanfare. Absent from both hearings were many of the community critics who have expressed fears about competition from the giant coffee company.

"We have four coffeehouses (on Elmwood Avenue) now. Five would be wonderful. . . . Let the patrons decide who's going to win the coffee wars," summed up Geraldine A. Ronsen of Norwood Avenue, one of the few speakers who addressed Council members.

North Council Member Dale L. Zuchlewski, who has welcomed the Seattle company to his district, said the advent of yet another coffeehouse on Elmwood Avenue could be a plus.

"There's nothing stopping (the business community) from doing a coffee festival right on Elmwood Avenue. . . . Accentuate the positive. Make Elmwood Avenue the coffee center of Western New York," he urged.

But on a more bitter note, Dave Cosentino, operator of Caffe Aroma, which is two doors away from the new Starbucks site, told officials that he had "1,700 names on a petition (signed by those) that would like to see Starbucks not on Elmwood Avenue."

Bill Cook, construction manager for Starbucks, said he is willing to work with the Elmwood Task Force, which criticized the proposed exterior of the building the property owner plans to construct and lease to Starbucks.

Cook said the company usually locates in existing buildings but was unable to find a suitable location elsewhere on Elmwood. He said the store would concentrate on sales of coffee and coffee-making equipment, with a limited offering of fresh delivered pastries and prewrapped sandwiches.

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