AMHERST, NY - New plans have been unveiled by a developer to reshape the Northtown Plaza in Amherst. That area has already experienced a big boost from the Whole Foods that opened there last month.
The plans for the plaza show that a developer based in Boston, Massachusetts, wants to knock down two buildings and build six retail buildings, bringing life back to this area.
"I think when it's been truly bustling, you're going back at least a decade," said A.J. Baynes, the president/CEO of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce, "It's not going to just be you're going to go in for one thing and then come back out and go somewhere else. They want to see you enjoy the center for several hours at a time."
The developer -- WS Development -- sent pictures of what it could look like at Northtown -- pictures of what the company has already built in a suburb north of Boston. Green space for yoga and activities for children. Even an area for ice skating during the winter.
To fill the six buildings, The Buffalo News reports that WS Development has shown interest in tenants, like Lake Effect Ice Cream in Lockport -- but the developer tells us those plans were from last year, and possible tenants constantly change.
Whatever the company ends up doing, first needs to be approved by the Town of Amherst zoning board and eventually, building and planning departments. And WS Development is looking for town zoning rule changes. One example, the company wants approval for 232 fewer off-site parking spaces. This is something the zoning board will have to address. This is a proposal that some are opposed to.
"I have concerns about parking yes," said Amherst supervisor Barry Weinstein, "they're squeezing in so much that they need a lot of variances."
Whole Foods opened there last month and experts say has been doing well. Other stores like Pottery Barn, West Elm, and Williams Sonoma will move to the Plaza and open by 2019.
The next zoning board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 21 that's when those proposed changes to zoning rules is expected to be addressed.