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Tim Hortons proposed for Michigan and William is back on track

To borrow from Monty Python, "it's not dead yet."

Just when it seemed like a proposed new Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop in downtown Buffalo had been killed by a Zoning Board of Appeals vote, the developer behind the project managed to extract a victory after all. But it took a lawsuit to get there.

The zoning board last week reversed course and granted a needed variance for a drive-thru lane as part of the proposal by Ellicott Development Co. to construct a two-story mixed-use building on a vacant site at the northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and William Street.

The board in September rejected the request, which threatened the entire project's viability because the Canadian coffee-shop chain required the drive-thru as part of its lease. Ellicott said at the time that it would not proceed with the project because Tim Hortons was its anchor tenant.

Instead, the developer appealed the ZBA's decision through an "Article 78" lawsuit against the municipal board. The court sided with the developer that the denial was improper and ordered the board to issue the variance.

Located on a two-thirds-acre site at the edge of Buffalo's downtown business district, at 474 Michigan, the 9,336-square-foot building would feature additional retail space on the first floor and three apartments upstairs. The proposal had also included 27 parking spaces.

It must now be reviewed by the Planning Board.


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