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Plans to redevelop vacant Cheektowaga plaza are OK’d

Plans to redevelop the vacant Garden Village Plaza in Cheektowaga into a warehouse and office complex cleared their final hurdle Monday night.

The Town Board approved the proposal by Benderson Development Co. to turn the blighted 26.7 acre site, on the southeast corner of French and Union roads, into 355,013-square-feet of warehouse space.

“What they have done is created an economic boost to this area,” said Councilman James P. Rogowski.

In its heyday, the plaza was home to more than 20 businesses, including a Hills Department Store, which later became an Ames store, as well as a Tops supermarket.

Plans call for utilizing the former Ames store as a 89,838-square-foot warehouse. In addition, three new warehouses are proposed, measuring 94,794-square-feet, 143,669-square-feet and 26,712-square-feet. Two existing automotive use buildings on the site would be demolished.

The property was also rezoned Monday from retail and commercial to light manufacturing.

Benderson purchased the property in 2006 for just over $2 million, and nearby residents have long complained about rodents and a lack of progress at redeveloping the site.

“It’s been way too long that we’ve been dealing with that vacant property,” said Supervisor Diane Benczkowski. “I know the residents are very, very frustrated. At least we have a plan. It should be moving along very quickly.”

Some residents had pushed for the site to continue as retail, but the developer has previously said its efforts to attract those businesses as tenants were unsuccessful. A Benderson representative did not speak at Monday’s meeting.

The complex is projected to create between 100 and 350 full-time jobs such as truck drivers, forklift operators and office workers, and includes six acres of greenspace, Rogowski said. A 10-foot high fence on top of a berm is planned to separate the complex from neighboring apartments to the east.

“I’m glad we’re getting something there,” Rogowski said. “It may not be what we all want but it is an economic boost ... It’s going to be one hundred times better than what it is today.”

Later, Theresa Drive resident Roger A. Hebeler told the board he was concerned about exhaust from truck traffic in and out of the complex’s approximately 40 docks. He was the only member of the public to speak on the proposal.

Hebeler was told trucks will not be permitted to idle, and that air quality and noise studies found there will be no adverse impact on the area.

The project could be a catalyst for further growth in that part of the town, along its southern border with West Seneca, said Benczkowski.

“Once we have an office and warehouse, the rest will follow,” she said. “You’ll see more residents and more businesses moving into that area. It’s going to revitalize everything around there.”

email: jpopiolkowski@buffnews.com

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