BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Common Council members held their first hearing for a plan to convert a former Kenmore Avenue supermarket into a self-storage facility, and neighbors were unanimous in their opposition.
As one neighbor put it, “This is an abomination. It’s terrible.” But the neighbors who attended the hearing in the Council Chambers seemed to concede the former Budwey’s, that was closed last May, will never be replaced by another grocery store.
Corey Auerbach, an attorney for Dash’s made a brief presentation to the Council’s Community Development Committee, explaining the Dash’s plan to convert the vacant building to a self storage facility.
“A redevelopment proposal that is viable here, I think everyone would agree, is more beneficial than a vacant property.”
Neighbor Joe Schmidbauer responded, the pullout of businesses along the stretch of Kenmore Avenue has turned the area into a “dead zone”, but Schmidbauer contends a Dash’s plan would be even worse.
“Storage facilities are not these kind of clean operations where people come and store their furniture. It becomes a kind of a ‘free fire zone’ because there is no real clear supervision at what goes into those storages.”
The vacant store was purchased by Joe Dash, who owns his own local chain of grocery stores, and was supposed to get remodeled and re-open, but it doesn’t seem that is going to happen.
University District Councilman Rasheed Wyatt asked for the hearing, and he seems inclined to go with what the neighbors are saying.
“I know that the number of emails that I have been getting, and the Council president, and the mayor has been getting, have been totally against this.”
But supporters of the proposed storage facility say, Kenmore Avenue needs the new development. Joe Dash’s attorney Jeffrey Palumbo said, after the hearing, the self-storage facility would give the neighborhood a boost.
“Give Kenmore Avenue a shot in the arm. It needs a shot in the arm. You drive down Kenmore Avenue and you can see the stores that have been boarded up.”
Rosline Righetti, vice president of the Merrimac Street Block Club said she has talked to business owners who are interested in redeveloping Dash’s parcel into a retail strip mall.
“We are in an upswing, we are in an upswing of Buffalo, and I think that is going to happen in any area. I think that if people are given a chance, that area is going to come back.”
After the hearing, Palumbo said Joe Dash is going ahead with an application for a re-zone, and change of use for the property. Palumbo said Dash has approached other businesses about redeveloping the property for other uses, and the interest just isn’t there.