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Harley dealer plans new store in Orchard Park

Buffalo Harley-Davidson is hitting the road and heading south with plans to open a second store in Orchard Park.

The local motorcycle seller, with retail tread marks that can be traced back 85 years to a Harley shop on Main Street near downtown Buffalo, plans to open Buffalo Harley-Davidson South at 140 Mid County Drive, just off Mile Strip Road, in Orchard Park later this year.

"It's just a fantastic location," said owner John Brinkworth. "It will make it so much more convenient for people who live in the Southtowns to do business with us without having to make the trip north to Amherst."

Buffalo Harley's sole outlet is located at 4220 N. Bailey Ave. in Amherst.

"I live in East Aurora and make the trip to Amherst everyday, but for people who don't head up to Buffalo very often, it seems like the other side of the world. This will eliminate that barrier," Brinkworth said.

After eyeing several Southtowns sites, Brinkworth decided on a site in Ciminelli Development Co.'s Mid County Office Park. The retailer plans to buy a 47,000-square-foot building that was built as a research and design facility for Moog Inc. in the 1990s. The building has been vacant for several years.

"It doesn't really look anything like a Harley store right now, but it's going to be a real destination when we get done with it," Brinkworth said.

While plans for the new store won't go before the Town of Orchard until next month, Brinkworth has been busy mapping out the build-out. A team from Milwaukee, Wis.-based Harley-Davidson's Retail Environment Group were in town earlier this week to help develop plans for the store. A Harley-approved architect will be used to convert the bland research building into a fantasy world for motorcycle riders.

The price tag for the conversion is expected to be in the $2 million range.

This isn't the first time Brinkworth has taken an unlikely site and converted it to a Harley store. In 1999, he accomplished a chrome and leather makeover of a former bowling alley-turned-furniture-showroom at his current, 48,000-square-foot store.

Like its sister operation in Amherst, the new Orchard Park store will feature a showroom with some 60 Harley's on display, an on-site inventory of hundreds of additional motorcycles in stock, a wide selection of biking clothing and accessories, and a full service department.

Brinkworth said despite the fact that local weather prevents year-round riding, Buffalo is one the country's strongest motorcycle markets.

"It's a tremendously strong market and we have one of the highest market shares in the country for Harley. There is definitely enough demand to warrant a second store," he said.

This marks Ciminelli's second sale of a portion of its Mid County Office Park for retail use in the past year. In March 2005, the Jim Ball automotive group purchased 15.5 acres of the property, which runs along Southwestern Boulevard for $1.2 million with plans to add as many as three new dealerships.

The area around the 25-year-old office development site has become increasingly retail-oriented in recent years with a bumper crop of auto sellers setting up shop along Southwestern Boulevard and the growing Quaker Crossing retail power center, which includes Target and Kohls a short distance away on Mile Strip Road.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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