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Amherst planners give go-ahead to two-building multifamily apartment complex on Audubon Parkway

An Amherst-based real estate development group is moving forward with its newest construction project, after the town Planning Board gave the go-ahead late last week for a new two-building multifamily apartment complex on John James Aubudon Parkway.

MEL Investors LLC, a group led by builder Paul M. Bliss, plans to construct a 52-unit luxury apartment complex at 491 Audubon Parkway. The project, designed by C&S Engineers, includes two three-story buildings, with site improvements such as 104 parking spaces, access aisles, and water, sewer and utility connections.

The 2.91-acre vacant property is owned by Towne Centre Development Company LLC, which is controlled by Victor L. Peterson III of MJ Peterson Corp. The property, which is located just north of Benderson Village and directly across from the Amherst Police Department and Town Court, includes 0.58 acres of federally designated wetlands, of which one-tenth of an acre would be filled in, according to documents filed with the town. Plans call for construction to start in the spring, said attorney Sean W. Hopkins.

MEL Investors previously built an $8.875 million, three-story senior citizen housing project, with 99 units and 110,000 square feet of space, at 1765-1805 Maple Road, at Ayer Road, in Amherst. The project was approved by the town Planning Board but was denied tax breaks from the Amherst Industrial Development Agency because it involved senior citizen housing.

Also, Anthony and Joseph Napoli plan to relocate their Napoli’s Per La Moda men’s clothing store from leased space at 5841 Transit Road in Clarence to a new site nearby in Amherst. The brothers received approval from the Planning Board to construct a new one-story retail building at 6809 and 6815 Main St., near Transit, replacing an existing 3,280-square-foot structure on the 0.8-acre site with a new 9,531-square-foot facility. Napoli would occupy most of the building, with a second tenant for the rest.

The project at Main Street and Harding Avenue would also add 25 more parking spaces, for a total of 45. The project has already received variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals for off-street parking and a setback.

Founded in 1972 by Joseph Napoli and now co-owned, the store touts its customer service and personalized fit, while highlighting brands and designers such as Brioni, Canali, Coppley, Hickey Freeman, Hugo Boss and Mattarazi Uomo, as well as Dolcepunta neckwear, Salvatore Ferragamo cologne and Gucci fragrance.

Additionally, the Planning Board:

• Recommended that the Town Board rezone the current Holiday Inn Buffalo Niagara at 1881 and 1893 Niagara Falls Blvd. so it can be converted into a CarMax auto superstore dealership. CarMax views the site as highly attractive because it’s next to the Youngmann Memorial Highway interchange, giving it significant visibility and access.

But the property currently has a zoning restriction, limiting its use to the hotel, an office building, a gas station or any of three types of industrial plants. CarMax and its attorneys noted that the hotel’s owners want to close the facility and argued that the 6.5-acre property isn’t the right size for an office building or gas station, and isn’t a suitable location for industry.

Under the plans by C&S Engineers, the two-story, 199-room hotel, now owned by Visions Hotels, of Corning, would be demolished, to be replaced by an 18,600-square-foot building for used-car sales, service, car-wash and showroom functions. Construction would last about seven months.

• Approved a proposal by Kevin J. Wyse to expand the existing Alexander Estates Phase II apartment complex at 2209, 2213 and 2217 Sweet Home Road, by increasing the number of apartments by seven to a total of 60, with the addition of six new stories to existing buildings.

The project would add one story and two apartments to a two-story building that already has four units, plus a three-story, 1,080-square-foot addition with one unit and a leasing office to an existing 2.5-story building with 12 units.

Wyse also plans to add two stories and two apartments each to two existing one-story garages.

• Approved a new 10,200-square-foot parish center addition to St. Leo the Great Catholic Church, 885 Sweet Home, on the southeast side of the existing church, and a separate 1,872-square-foot pavilion and maintenance building.

• Approved a new pole barn at 6350 Main for Gateway-Longview.