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Tim Hortons, apartments planned for vacant lot in Tonawanda

One of the few large vacant lots in the City of Tonawanda would be redeveloped into apartments, townhouses and retail, including a Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop, according to plans under review by city officials.

Ellicott Development Co. has submitted plans for two buildings at 618 Delaware Street, between Tussing Lane and A Touch of Italy restaurant, just inside the city’s border with the Town of Tonawanda.

The building closest to Delaware would have a 2,000-square-foot Tim Hortons, with a drive-thru, and an additional 3,250 square feet of retail space next door. Three apartments totaling 5,250 square feet would be located on the second floor.

A proposed rear two-story building would have four one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom apartments in the middle, flanked by two townhouses on each side.

“It’s not a big project but we feel it’s a nice project,” said William Paladino of Ellicott Development. “We feet it fits well on that parcel.”

Ellicott, through its affiliate, 9274 Group, bought the approximately 1.5 acres at 618 and 622 Delaware Street at foreclosure in 2011 for $300,000, according to Erie County real estate records.

“We’ve just been sitting on it, waiting for the right opportunities,” he said. “Tim Hortons we do deal with, and they inquired about the parcel knowing that we owned it.”

The apartments and townhouses would be leased at market-rate and include 23 parking spaces, while an additional 25 parking spaces would be reserved for the retail and restaurant.

The project would be similar in size and design to the two-story mixed-use building Ellicott built at 1088 Niagara Street in Buffalo, which also houses a Tim Hortons and apartments, he said.

The developer is likely to request at least one, possibly several, variances from the city for the project, he said.

Zoning of the site is currently split between residential and commercial but doesn’t allow for restaurants such as Tim Hortons, said Erik Lindhurst, the city’s building inspector. “We need to adjust the zoning on it,” Lindhurst said.

The City Council this week discussed options for rezoning the parcel and agreed to begin the process of studying the project’s environmental impact. Council members were receptive to plans for the mixed-use project, which would be one of the few recent development projects in the already built-out city. Other than the 47-acre Spaulding Commerce Park, the city has little land primed for development.

“It would be one of the first major undertakings in buildings that we’ve had in this city,” said 2nd Ward Councilwoman Jackie Smilinich, who represents the area. “Maybe we’ll lose that label that we don’t want anything new in this city.”

Later, she said she was referring to languished plans to build homes on about 17 acres of vacant city-owned land along Little League Drive.

The Delaware Street site would make for “a nice entranceway to the city,” Smilinich said.

The site was formerly “Jerry and Larry’s” service and gas station. Underground fuel tanks were removed in 1988 and 1993 and the station was demolished within the last 10 years, leaving only a concrete pad remaining on the northeast corner, said Lindhurst.


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