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Microbrewery and brew pub planned for Summit mall

WHEATFIELD – The owner of The Summit, a largely vacant mall, is proposing to open a microbrewery and brew pub to help lure people to the Williams Road shopping center.

Mall manager Cynthia Potts said Tuesday that the beer project goes along with plans for two giant sports domes, projected to open next fall.

Monday, the Town Board scheduled a public hearing for Jan. 23 on a possible grant to Big Thunder Brewing Co., which would be operated by the owners of the Summit.

Real estate developer Zoran Cocov of Brampton, Ontario, acquired the moribund mall in 2014 and obtained a tax break from the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency to assist him in an estimated $17 million resuscitation plan. His new company, Summit Outlets, also bought 570 acres of land around the mall.

The mall's only tenants are Sears and Bon Ton stores and a Save-a-Lot grocery store. Sears actually owns its space rather than leasing it.

The rest of the 810,000-square-foot mall is deserted, and under previous ownership vandals destroyed much of the mall's infrastructure, stealing pipes and wiring and causing the flooding of much of the complex.

Construction is to begin in the spring on two 96,000-square-foot sports domes with 75-foot-high inflatable roofs, covering a variety of athletic fields and courts that would be available to local leagues.

The Jan. 23 hearing would seek the public's views on an application to the state Office of Community Renewal for Community Development Block Grant funding for the brew pub, but Town Attorney Matthew E. Brooks said the developer hasn't decided how much the grant should be.

"The anticipated amount is substantial," Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said, but he added that the grant won't cover the entire cost of the microbrewery and pub project.

Potts said the brewery and pub go along with the sports domes in the first phase of Cocov's plan to revive the former Summit Park Mall.

"There are phases that have to go online over the next few years," Potts said. But a place to eat and drink would help keep potential customers using the sports facilities on the property longer, she said.

She said the brew pub's design and exact location haven't been finalized, and neither has the cost.

Potts said the company's main effort is to repair the plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning systems. "We're just plugging along doing certain types of repairs that are warranted at the time, in regards to the sprinkler system and things like that," she said.

She said at present, the mall has little space that could accommodate new tenants.

"The position of the owner is, he's not going to open up a huge area in the mall for one or two businesses," Potts said. "He wants people to go in there and be successful. In order to do that, he believes that we need to have five or six substantial programs or tenants going in there at one time for the first phase. Opening one or two little shops there just isn't going to do it."

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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