Transformation for Cheektowaga’s Garden Village Plaza

The Garden Village Plaza seen on February 22, 2017, will soon be demolished to make way for a 355,000 sq ft. warehouse and distribution complex. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
The Garden Village Plaza seen on February 22, 2017, will soon be demolished to make way for a 355,000 sq ft. warehouse and distribution complex. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. – Work to transform the old Garden Village Plaza site into a warehouse and distribution complex will begin soon after the Erie County Industrial Development Agency approved an incentive package at their membership meeting Wednesday morning.

Work to abate and demolish the zombie retail plaza which has been a blight on South Cheektowaga for over a decade will start within the next 30 to 45 days according to Eric Recoon, Vice President of Development and Leasing at Benderson Development.

Phase one of the project will be to demolish the 88,000 sq ft. structure that extends from the old Tops Market to the former Ames Department store.

“Thereafter you will see the modification and renovation of the former Ames building, that is staying, along with the new construction on the roughly 95,000 foot structure that is going next to it,” said Recoon.

The site plan for the new warehouse and distribution complex at the Garden Village Plaza calls for a total of 355,00 sq ft. new space. (ECIDA Photo)
The site plan for the new warehouse and distribution complex at the Garden Village Plaza calls for a total of 355,00 sq ft. new space. (ECIDA Photo)

An additional two buildings will be built were the plaza’s parking lot currently sits to bring the entire warehouse and distribution complex footprint to 355,000 sq ft. of usable space.

“I think that’s a great start and needless to say, it’s just about something happening in that plaza.  It’s deteriorated over the years where it is affecting the property values.  It’s affecting the residents off of French Road and their neighborhoods.  I think this is a real boost for Cheektowaga,” said Cheektowaga Supervisor Diane Benczkowski.

The incentive package to Benderson Development is worth over $2.5 million dollars in real property tax and sales tax savings.  The project will generate approximately $480,660 of revenue to the local taxing jurisdictions over the life of a seven year PILOT agreement.  The Town of Cheektowaga’s share is approximately $142,560.

The former Ames store in the Garden Village Plaza seen on February 22, 2017, will be redeveloped as part of a new 355,000 sq ft. warehouse and distribution complex. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
The former Ames store in the Garden Village Plaza seen on February 22, 2017, will be redeveloped as part of a new 355,000 sq ft. warehouse and distribution complex. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz is happy to see that change is happening at the abandoned site and that the project will fit in with the light industry already developed in that corridor. 

“We needed to address that site because it has been a terrible eyesore for quite sometime.  It was not going to be turned back into retail development.  There has been significant light industrial in the immediate area, especially across the street on French Road,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

“When Benderson Development came out to us, our general thought was, ‘who do you have as employers’ and right now they don’t have any.  But, they committed to approximately 120 jobs at the site and they know if they don’t create the jobs then the tax incentives can be pulled back,” added Poloncarz.

Benderson Development is investing $20.7 million dollars into the project.  The developer needs to find an employer for the site who will create 124 jobs within two years of placing the buildings on the market.  The average yearly wage will be $30,000.

Around 146 construction jobs will be created as a result of the project.  The estimated economic impact of the construction phase is said to be $7,684,572.