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Renovation of Galleria is boon to construction

Renovation at Walden Galleria helped bring construction in Cheektowaga last year to a level not seen since the shopping mall was built.

But the residential side dragged; the number of new homes had not been that low in 24 years.

A record number of building permits was issued, with an estimated construction value of $66.82 million. That is the most money spent on construction in Cheektowaga since 1988, the year before the Galleria opened. That year, the value of building was estimated at $72 million, which still is the record.

"The one permit alone was a $20 million permit," Thomas J. Adamczak, supervisor of building inspectors, said of the Galleria's permit.

That $20 million permit included the demolition of the Bon-Ton department store and mall theater area and construction of new stores and restaurants. The renovation will cost about $60 million, and include two new buildings, the gutting of a section of the mall and a new five-story parking garage.

Best Buy and the Cheesecake Factory opened late last year, and stores to open this year include a two-story Barnes & Noble, Bravo! Cucina Italiana, Melting Pot and other restaurants, as well as a new Regal Cinemas with stadium seating.

Most of the construction is to be finished about June, with the cinemas to open later this summer.

"All that adds up to valuation," Adamczak said.

Commercial construction accounted for about $53 million, with residential work making up the difference, Adamczak said. But while decks, sheds and pools continue to be added, only 10 houses and six townhomes were built in 2006, the lowest number in more than two decades.

"There isn't too much empty land out there," Adamczak said.

Average yearly construction has run about $40 million, but Adamczak said he expects a higher year this year because of construction in and around the Galleria. An additional $30 million to $40 million in permits is expected to be approved for the mall this year, he said.

Also expected this year is the demolition of the former Executive Inn on Genesee Street for the construction of three hotels and two restaurants. Adamczak said that a 10,000-square-foot office building is to be built on Genesee and that a bank is proposed for the front of the Appletree Business Center.

He also expects 76 patio homes to be built at Hickory Grove over the next three years.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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