‘Ghost town’ morphing into new business park

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – It has been lying dormant, blighted, and rusting for years, but starting this week, life has returned to the old Garden Village Plaza at the corner of Union and French Roads in Cheektowaga.

A demolition crew has been bustling at the old abandoned retail strip as the 26.7 acre lot prepares to morph into a new line of business in the area of Western New York known as South Cheektowaga.

At one time, as many as 20 retailers made their home in the old Garden Village Plaza–Hills Department Store, which replaced Ames, a Tops supermarket, Vix Drugs, and even Fowler’s chocolates. But the property has been vacant so long, some call it a “ghost town”.

Cheektowaga Town Supervisor Diane Benczkowski said the end of the shopping center where the big box department stores used to be will be remodeled, but everything else is going to be demolished.

“The old Ames/Hills Plaza store is staying and they are remodeling that. The rest of the smaller portion of the long plaza is being demolished.”

Benczkowski said Benderson Development Co., which owns the property, is replacing the old relic of a shopping center with new light manufacturing and office space, under a new name, the Garden Village Commerce Park.

“It is being transformed into light manufacturing and office space. In essence it does create good, better paying jobs than retail does, so I am excited about that part of it.”

After watching the old shopping plaza deteriorate over the years neighbors, such as Francis Gay who has lived in Cheektowaga for 35 years, are happy to see signs of life, “I think it’s great, I hope they create some jobs. It would be nice if we could some manufacturing in there, pay good wages.”

Benderson Development took control of the Garden Village Plaza in 2006, and while the start of demolition seems to be on target, company officials have not set a firm date for completion of the new business park.

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