Plans to convert a former grocery store building on Kenmore Avenue into a self-storage facility were denied Wednesday by the Buffalo Zoning Board of Appeals, which said the proposal would change the nature of the neighborhood.
In a 3-0 vote, the board said the retail commercial environment created by the supermarket that operated at the site for decades would not continue if the building becomes a self-storage center.
In addition, board member Warren F. Glover said that some people in the neighborhood are uncomfortable with the “interim” aspects of the plan, and feel the current property owner, Joe Dash, has not been “upfront” with the community about his plans for the building since purchasing it in 2013.
“I live down the street, and talk to neighbors,” Glover said.
The decision came as a bit of a surprise since, earlier in the meeting, University Heights Councilman Rasheed N.C. Wyatt told the board that the University Heights Neighborhood Collaborative was pleased with some compromises made by the property owner, and voted to support the project.
Originally, Dash proposed an indoor and outdoor self-storage facility, but in the face of neighborhood opposition, the outdoor storage proposal was dropped.
The most recent plans called only for indoor storage, using the existing building. Dash would postpone any decision on what to do with the outdoor portion of the property until sometime in the future. Also, additional landscaping was included in the plan.
All the neighbors, however, were not sold.
“I don’t see how you can grant this variance,” Winspear Avenue resident Jim Rozansky told the board.
Dash’s attorney, Corey A. Auerbach, defended his client’s actions, saying: “The applicant worked closely with the community to create a development plan responsive to community concerns. The applicant remains committed to bringing a productive redevelopment to the site and will work with the community and the city.”
Dash purchased the former Budwey’s supermarket at 416 Kenmore Ave. in November 2013. His initial plan was to close his Hertel Avenue store and convert the Kenmore Avenue store into a Dash’s signature Market Side Cafe.
However, the Hertel Avenue community opposed the idea of their neighborhood store closing, and Dash decided to keep that store open.
In July 2014, Dash permanently closed the Kenmore Avenue store, which he already had shut down in preparation for the planned remodeling. Then, in November 2014, he unveiled plans to convert the former grocery store building into a self-storage facility.