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BOARD APPROVES PROPOSAL FOR BANK

Antiques will make way for an ATM as the Country Doctor Antiques Store becomes a First Niagara Bank, under a proposal approved Monday by the Village Board.

Niagara Falls developer Frank Amendola has bought the property at 500 Center St. and unveiled plans Monday to redevelop on the corner.

The board unanimously approved the plan, which already has received village planning, zoning and historic preservation approvals. The location had been a doctor's office for more than 150 years, owned by a least three doctors, and for the past 10 years was being leased from the estate of Dr. Hans Selzer for the Country Doctor Antiques Store. Gretchen Broderick, one of eight operators who co-leased and ran the store, said the shop was closed last week.

Amendola said he had sold all of his property in the village 30 years ago because the properties were not generating enough rent. He said his re-entry into the Lewiston real estate market has a lot to do with changes in the community brought on by Mayor Richard F. Soluri.

Amendola now owns the Mini Plaza on Cayuga Street and adjacent apartment building, a new medical office for Dr. McCarthy and a Key Bank. He also recently reopened the Clarkson House Restaurant on Center Street.

"Another bank at Fifth and Center is what should be there," said Amendola.

Broderick disagreed.

While she said she appreciates that Amendola will save the building's historic facade, she said she and her customers are disappointed that another retail space will be replaced by a commercial establishment.

"We are heart broken, and our customers are whining and crying. We appreciate that Mr. Amendola will not be tearing it down and the look will be very nice, but a bank will not provide walk along traffic. Do we need another bank or real estate office?" said Broderick.

The new bank building will have a handicapped accessible main entrance and drive through on Fifth Street, as well as parking in the rear at the foot of Ridge Street. A courtyard will be built next to the building, featuring a memorial bronze plaque to remember the Country Doctors.

As for the antique store, its future is not clear.

"We haven't found a new location," Broderick said. "Everything on Center Street is so pricey. So we just don't know. Winter is a terrible time (for antiques) business. We hope to find something and open up by the spring. We would love to continue our business."

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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