The demolition of Chi-Chi's Restaurant at McKinley Mall and construction of a TGIFriday's in its place was put on hold when the Town of Hamburg realized Monday that Chi-Chi's is suing the town to lower its assessment.
Assessor Robert Hutchison said he was looking over the agenda of the Town Board meeting Monday afternoon when he noticed the resolution concerning TGIFriday's. He knew there was a problem, because Chi-Chi's had filed an Article 7 proceeding challenging its assessments back to 1997 in State Supreme Court.
The restaurant is assessed at more than $1.1 million, Hutchison said.
His heads-up to the deputy town attorney caused the Town Board to put off what was to have been a routine approval of the site plan for the new restaurant Monday night.
The board was ready to approve the application from Hospitality Realty, since TGIFriday's would be built on the same foundation as Chi-Chi's, until the assessment challenge was brought up.
"I don't know how this would impact that (assessment) lawsuit," Deputy Town Attorney Richard Boehm said.
Boehm said that another lawyer is handling that assessment challenge and that he wasn't aware of it until Hutchison told him Monday.
"It was just brought up to me late this afternoon," Boehm told the board.
"Perhaps we should discuss the impact this will have," Hutchison said.
A spokesman for TGIFriday's said he was not aware of the assessment challenge.
"This is the first we've heard of it. Friday's has no intention of following through on any lawsuit," the spokesman said, adding that the last contingency on the sale is town approval.
Councilwoman Kathleen Courtney Hochul suggested that TGIFriday's tell Chi-Chi's its lawsuit is holding up the sale of the property.
"I would suspect they're anxious to sell," she said.
The board tabled the site plan approval and said it would approve it at its work session Feb. 7 if the town legal and assessing departments did not have any other concerns.
The Planning Board usually approves site plans, but that function rests with the Town Board when the site plan involves McKinley Mall.
The Planning Board also reviews rezonings and makes recommendations to the Town Board, but the Town Board refused Monday to send a rezoning request to the lower board.
Meanwhile, John J. Bosse had asked that property fronting Lake Shore Road (Route 5) in the area around Fairway Court and Shoreham Drive be rezoned from single family to multifamily and general commercial.
The Town Board decided that the first recommendation of the town's master plan is not to allow additional commercial rezonings in the Lake View area.
The board found the application "wholly not in conformance with the town's Comprehensive Plan" and refused to entertain the request.
The board did send a rezoning request for Lakewood Avenue to the Planning Board. Benderson Properties has asked that the property at 2634 Lakewood be rezoned from single-family residence to a local retail business district. Planning consultant Andrew Reilly said that HSBC Bank wants to put in a new drive-through for its bank on Lake Shore Road.
The location has been "a problem area for years now," Reilly said.
He said the plaza where the bank is located is zoned residential to its rear and commercial on the front end.
"It makes no sense," he said.
The board sent the request to the Planning Board for review and said it wants the new entrance onto Lakewood Avenue instead of Orchard Avenue. It also asked that the request be amended to a neighborhood commercial zoning and said that curbs and curb-cuts on Lake Shore Road should be part of the review.