An Amherst developer will get another seven weeks to accomplish what critics on the City Council and in the business community say the firm could not do in the last year.
The Council voted 7-2 on Monday to approve an extension of the one-year contract, from Sept. 14 to Oct. 29, so the Benchmark Group can obtain approval from 75 percent of the Genesee Country Mall owners to sell their stores or offices so the structure can be demolished and replaced by a five-building complex of stores, offices and theaters.
The vote followed a 45-minute closed session with Benchmark CEO P. Jeffrey Birtch. Addressing the Council after the executive meeting, Birtch said his firm has seven acceptances. According to city Development Director Edward M. Flynn, Benchmark needs sales agreements with 14 of 27 mall property owners.
Pharmacist Paul G. Gluck, one of the few store owners remaining in the 23-year-old mall, said the city should deny the extension and seek a new developer.
Eleven mall property owners are suing the city for alleged neglect of the city-owned public concourses and are seeking an injunction to prevent demolition of the mall.
Last week in State Supreme Court, a temporary injunction against razing the structure was lifted. The hearing was adjourned until Sept. 27.
An attempt by Ward Council Member Rose Mary Christian to table the extension failed for lack of a second. On the vote, she and Ward Council Member Edward DeJaneiro Jr. voted against the resolution.
The Council also approved:
Changing the attendance requirements for volunteers serving on city boards and commissions from a proposed 75 percent to 66 percent.
Contracts with Amherst Paving Inc. for resurfacing part of Richmond Avenue at a cost of $97,485, and with Della Penna Paving of Batavia, $43,063, for the reconstruction of Masse Place.