Boulevard Mall in Amherst. April 2, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

Boulevard Mall Sells for $24 million

Local Sinatra & Company Real Estate wins the bid

April 03, 2019 - 3:51 pm
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AMHERST (WBEN) - The Boulevard Mall has been sold to Sinatra & Company Real Estate for $24.05 million.

Amherst Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa is intrigued by the area's potential.

"We're here to announce a pretty exciting day for the Town of Amherst, right?" said Kulpa. "The important thing is that the Boulevard Mall, which has been in receivership, has been sold. The Town of Amherst has put a lot of effort into making sure that this site was a site that people and developers could have confidence in - confidence in their bids. We put together a lot of work, a lot of rezoning work, a lot of efforts with infrastructure ideas about how we were going to accomplish some change, and that's led us to this point. "

And so is the Amherst Chamber of Commerce.

“We are excited to see a local developer who has already made a strong investment in our community take over this vital project in Amherst,” says A.J. Baynes, President/CEO of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce. “The town and the Chamber have been working aggressively on Niagara Falls Boulevard upgrading infrastructure and rezoning proposals to allow for a revamp more in tune with today’s marketplace. Ultimately, we hope this project includes the addition of the light rail to better connect the City of Buffalo with Amherst and the University at Buffalo.”

Kulpa discussed what it means that a local developer, Nick Sinatra, will be the one undertaking this project.

"We're hitting the ground running a little bit with a local developer who understands mixed use," said Kulpa. "As wide-eyed and starstruck as you can get when you get calls from big, out-of-town developers, you always in Buffalo root for...the local group that says that we can make it happen here. Nick's got experience elsewhere...he teaches real estate at UB. He knows UB, he knows the area, so having someone local win, that's a bonus."

Now, there are some interesting caveats in which stores and space the sold Boulevard Mall site actually entails. JC Penney owns its own building, and that was not part of the auction. Benderson owns the Macy's and the Dick's Sporting Goods, so those were also not a part of the auction. Sears, which is in bankruptcy hearings. Also, aside from the anchor stores, there are a number of shops that still have leases remaining in the building, but Kulpa says those will have to be negotiated over time.

The Wegman's parcel on Alberta Drive also sold for just over $7 million, but Kulpa couldn't confirm who had bought that building. However, Kulpa did assure the numerous Wegman's lovers in the region that the grocer will not be leaving any time soon.

"Wegman's has a long-term lease on that building, and they have right of first refusal, so even though it sold, we don't know if Wegman's is going to decide just to match it and buy it outright. Either way, their lease is not affected by this," he said. "So, let's dispel that. The sale of the property does not mean that Wegman's is moving."

Wegman's confirmed Kulpa's sentiments in a released statement.

"Our Alberta Drive is store is one of our most successful," they said. "We are a tenant on this property, with a long-term lease. Regardless of what happens with the sale of the property, we will remain a tenant." 

Kulpa addressed a question regarding the possible Metro Rail expansion into Amherst and whether that potential makes developers more interested in the space that Amherst has to offer.

"When you look nationwide, people are betting on transit," began Kulpa. "Everyone from Amazon to Microsoft want locations near transit; retail wants locations near transit, student housing wants locations near transit, so obviously, it goes part and parcel with the interest level.

However...

"We're not betting on light-rail only," he continues. "We're putting forward a great plan and a great product that can function if we stay auto-centric, but we know that light-rail is really going to drive true reinvestment here."

However, between Metro Rail expansion project and this development project, there is still a ways to go before everything comes to fruition.

"Ultimately, this project has a lot of moving parts and a lot of work the town has to do get it over the next thresholds," said Kulpa. "But, we're at a moment here where we can say we've reached the point when we can start collectively working with the private sector to build a new future for the west side of the Town of Amherst, and that's pretty magical."

Listen to Kulpa's entire press conference below:

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