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TWO IN RUNNING TO PURCHASE SENIOR CENTER

Amherst has narrowed the sale of its Senior Center at 30 N. Union Road to two interested buyers.

But town officials discussed the sale of the building behind closed doors Monday afternoon. Afterwards, officials -- worried about jeopardizing any deal -- wouldn't give out the names of the potential buyers or how much was offered for the 25-year-old building.

Hunt Commercial Real Estate -- hired by the town to handle offers on the building -- collected several bids on the Nov. 19 deadline, but two potential buyers with similar offers emerged, said Council Member Jane S. Woodward, liaison to the town Department of Senior Services.

The Town Board directed Hunt agents to go back to both bidders and ask them for their best offer, Woodward said.

Amherst could agree on an offer for the building as early as next week. Amherst senior citizens, though, will remain in the North Union building until the new Senior Center is completed later this year.

Amherst is constructing a larger senior center on John James Audubon Parkway and wants proceeds from selling its old center -- which the town hopes will be at least $1 million -- to help finance the project.

The move opens a potentially attractive piece of commercial real estate -- 15,000 square feet near the Youngmann Highway in Williamsville with more than 100 parking spaces.

The property is zoned for a community facility, such as a day-care center or not-for-profit organization.

But to attract companies looking for office space, the Town Board has passed a resolution indicating it is prepared to consider a potential rezoning request for office use on the property.

Meanwhile, Amherst officials still are wrangling with the sale of the four-story St. Mary of the Angels Motherhouse on Mill Street.

Peregrine Cos. of Syracuse wants to buy the historic building from the town for $2.3 million with annual payments in lieu of taxes totaling $30,000.

Officials still have too many concerns -- including Peregrine's offer to make a down payment of only $5,000 -- for the town to get a deal done by next week as hoped.

"I don't think we're going to be ready," said town Attorney Phillip A. Thielman.

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