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DEVELOPER TO BUY EX-GRAIN MILL SITE ONCE SLATED FOR HOTEL

A fledgling East Aurora commercial development company is moving to take control of the Griggs & Ball Co. site that had been earmarked for a newly approved $4.5 million French-style hotel.

Aurora Ventures principals say they want to build a hotel somewhere in the village, although they're not sure whether that property at Main and Riley streets would be the best location for lodging.

One thing is certain, though -- the former feed mill and grain elevator that some consider an eyesore will be demolished.

"It's not a done deal, but we think the hotel is a strong possibility," said Paul Bandrowski, chairman of Aurora Ventures.

The pending property purchase between Aurora Ventures and the Hitchings family, which owns the former feed mill and grain elevator site, is under contract and expected to close this spring, Bandrowski said late last week.

Aurora Ventures became interested in acquiring the property after the option on it expired for another developer, which had proposed building a five-story hotel there.

The acquisition would further bolster Aurora Ventures' presence in the village's business core.

In the last eight months, the company has acquired about 85,000 square feet of commercial space along Main Street as part of its vision to preserve and revitalize the business district as a retail hub in a quaint community.

Aurora Ventures has hired a consultant for a study to determine whether a hotel would work at the Griggs & Ball site.

"They're validating whether lodging is suitable for this site, or another one," said Aurora Ventures President William Maggio. "A hotel would be great for the community."

Even if a hotel is not built at that site, company officials said they're committed to developing the property and would most likely pursue building some form of lodging elsewhere in the village.

The development comes about six weeks after the Village Board approved a development plan submitted by Village Hospitality for a 63-room Aurora Grand Hotel at the Griggs & Ball site.

Village Hospitality officials could not be reached to comment on whether they plan to pursue another hotel project elsewhere in the village.

"The hotel we may build will most assuredly not be what was proposed," Bandrowski said.

He stressed that his company's pursuit of the property "wasn't a condemnation of anybody or (another) project."

At the time it was announced, many lauded plans for what would have been the village's first new hotel in probably close to a century.

Supporters cited the growing tourism market in East Aurora, plus the need for additional meeting space and hotel rooms to accommodate the needs of local companies such as Fisher-Price, Moog and Motorola. Those companies and others have said they are forced to turn to hotels in Cheektowaga, Lancaster and Hamburg.

Mayor John Pagliaccio, who met with Aurora Ventures officials Friday, praised the company for doing its homework by hiring a consultant.

"The village is a suburban/urban community. If a study shows it's warranted, great," he said. "Anybody going to invest that kind of money should do their homework. If it's meant to be, I think that's great."

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