North Buffalo neighbors appeared receptive Thursday to plans for an expanded Dash's supermarket at the corner of Hertel and Starin avenues.
More than 100 people packed the pews of North Park Lutheran Church to hear details about the proposed building – a two-story, 45,000-square-foot structure.
Dash's owner Joe Dash and architects from Wendel Design said the market will include several new amenities. They include a ground-floor market with full-service meat, seafood and produce departments, coffee and pastry areas, as well as Dash's signature Marketside Cafe.
There also are plans for a second-story mezzanine cafe for seating and dining for up to 180 customers, including an outdoor space overlooking the corner of Hertel and Starin, and additional amenities that include a community room and a virtual office area.
"This is my gift to the community," Dash told those assembled for the meeting in the church at at Starin and Wingate avenues.
He added that he sought no tax breaks from the city for the proposed development.
"We've been supported for almost five decades at this location by the people. I've been promising them a new store. I hadn't been able to capture all the real estate I needed to build a new store, but we finally broke that barrier here, and now we have the opportunity to build a new store," Dash said after the meeting.
Elizabeth Giles lives in the Parkside neighborhood, which is within walking distance of the market, but she had a concern about preservation as it pertains to the proposed expansion.
"My motivation for coming here tonight was to see if they were going to take down original buildings. I'd like to see as many original buildings remain standing as possible. But I must say the chiropractor house there is hideous. I wouldn't miss it," Giles said of a property Dash needed to acquire before he could go ahead with his plans.
Rodney and Debbie Staszak, who have lived in North Buffalo since 1981, were happy with the plans.
"We've been shopping there for almost all of our groceries forever," said Rodney Staszak of the current market. "It's been a great store, great service. This is just a real asset to the community and Hertel Avenue."
"This is so elevated from the Dash's we have now," added Debbie Staszak. "It's so beautiful, and you can tell his heart is in it. So, we're excited."
Neighborhood resident Elaine Trenkle was buoyed by some of the "green" amenities included in the plans for the market, such as a roof top garden and rain barrels.
"I appreciate the investment in the neighborhood, because he's going to bring the neighborhood up. I live close by. I shop here and it will be nice to have an expanded market," Trenkle said.
There were concerns among some about doubling the footprint of the current Dash's market, particularly plans to expand the parking lot to accommodate 80 vehicles.
Daniel Sack, an Elmwood Village resident, does not live in the neighborhood but was concerned that the project did not seem to comport with the city's Green Code.
"The city spent over $2 million and six years, including thousands of man hours and citizens participating, and this does not comply with the Green Code," Sack said.
Under the newly adopted Green Code, Sack said a mixed commercial/residential area like Hertel could accommodate buildings up to 150 feet long, but what Dash is proposing is more than 1 1/2 times that size at 240 feet.
"A tenet of urbanism – whether it's old urbanism or new urbanism – is small increments of development, not huge increments of development," Sack said. "Whether or not a person likes that it's 240 feet, my main concern is that we have to enforce the Green Code."
Dash said the design of the proposed building intentionally reflects the character of the North Buffalo neighborhood it serves. He said he considers the Hertel store his flagship location since it is within a few miles of where his family’s business started.
He said decorative elements will be incorporated into the building's façade and parking lot, to enhance the look and feel of the project from the adjacent residential properties.
In November, Dash's bought a former First Niagara bank branch across Starin Avenue at 1726 Hertel Ave.