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Developers of the Orchard Downs site in Orchard Park say they expect the old restaurant and hotel to be demolished by mid-April, if not before.

"We had given promises for having the new building ready to set up in the late part of summer," said David Hart, who is redeveloping the site with partner Peter Krug. "We hope to start on demolition sometime in the month of April, if not sooner. We want to get the building down and our construction started."

The last of the obstacles to replacing the 180-year-old Orchard Downs with an office building was removed Monday night when the Orchard Park Village Board approved a special exception permit for the new project.

Hart and Krug have a commitment from the Salomon Smith Barney investment company to serve as the anchor tenant of the building overlooking the village's signature crossroads at the intersection of Quaker (Route 20A) and Buffalo (Route 24 0/2 77) streets.

The developers had already received demolition approval from the Orchard Park Village Planning Board contingent on their receiving approval from the Village Board and the village Zoning Board of Appeals.

They must still receive site-plan approval for their new building, but the only step left before demolition is to get a demolition permit, Hart said.

"It's procedural at this point," Hart said. "The building inspector hands that out, and he wants to make sure about site safety for pedestrians, having proper fencing, contractor's license and where (the waste) is going to go."

The developers contended the Orchard Downs building was beyond saving after being vacant for three years and suffering neglect for years before that. Members of the Orchard Park Historical Society had objected, saying the building could be saved.

On Monday, the Village Board, by a 4-0 vote, approved the special exceptions for the project regarding the size of the new building and its parking spaces.

"Not only will we end up with a safer building as far as the fire code, but the timing is a one-shot deal that we will end up with the building being set back to the north and east and wind up with twice as wide a sidewalk and much better visibility," said Mayor Patricia Dickman.

The state Department of Transportation will start reconstruction of Route 27 7/2 40 this spring and will reach the "Four Corners" where the site is located next spring. A new building placed slightly to the north and east will allow the DOT to create a wider sidewalk and improve sight lines at the intersection.

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