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Wal-Mart planned for Rte. 20 in Hamburg

Rumors have become reality in Hamburg with Benderson Development's announcement that a Wal-Mart Supercenter will be coming to the Brierwood Shopping Center on Southwestern Boulevard, Route 20.

Wal-Mart has filed plans with the Town of Hamburg to put a 203,000-square-foot store in the former South Shore Plaza, a desolate shopping strip at the corner of Rogers Road.

The former site of a Hens & Kelly department store is currently home to a flooring store, an exercise center and long rows of vacant storefronts.

"It's a reuse of an existing plaza that's virtually empty," said Councilman Mark Cavacoli. "It will revitalize the area. It's not taking valuable green space but reusing empty stores." The site had been rumored as a Wal-Mart location after the other remaining businesses -- a Carvel ice cream shop and Mickey Callahan's bar -- closed.

The new Wal-Mart will be about 4 miles southwest of the current Hamburg Wal-Mart, at the Seven Corners intersection of McKinley Parkway, Route 20 and Big Tree Road.

Plans call for the project to be finished during the summer of 2007.

Rex Burgher, Benderson's senior vice president of development, said the Bank of America on the site will remain under the proposal, while the company is working to relocate World Gym.

"We bought some vacant property to the rear," said Burgher. "We'll be tearing down the entire existing layout." Burgher said Benderson plans to redevelop adjacent land with approximately 125,000 square feet of new retail space. He said the company is speaking to potential tenants, including junior apparel stores, home furnishing stores and several national restaurant chains.

The Wal-Mart will offer groceries, bakery and deli goods, a vision center and tire and lube auto center.

Wendy Vunak, the chairwoman of the board of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, said she hadn't heard enough details to comment on what effects the Supercenter might have on other businesses. "I would just say that with that part of the town, we're elated that they're going into Brierwood and building a new space," said Vunak, general manager of McKinley Mall.

The project still has to go through town approval processes, although it will be on land that is already zoned commercial. Cavacoli said he expects some opposition, but he supports the project. "There are going to be anti-Wal-Mart people who don't like it near them," Cavacoli said, "but there are also people who say they're sick and tired of looking at a derelict shopping center and when are we going to do something about it." No plans have been announced for the current Hamburg Wal-Mart.

e-mail: eploetz@buffnews.com