Mayor believes Williamsville is ripe for development

Buffalo Business First

Buoyed by a pair of high profile residential-based projects and the completion of a $3 million make over of Main Street, the Village of Williamsville is poised to be a development hot spot.
At least that’s the hope of Brian Kulpa, Williamsville mayor.

Kulpa, in releasing his “Prospectus: Williamsville” blueprint for the suburban village, said he would love to see investors use the its Main Street business landscape as a development destination.

To do that, Williamsville has new zoning codes that should clear up misperceptions about the village.

“Looking over our past zoning codes, we were looking at some tire fires,” Kulpa said. “We took the guess work out our planning board.”

It has paid off.

Bevilaqua & Associates wants to start work next month on a nearly $10 million residential-anchored development across from Williamsville South High School that replaces a series of older buildings.

And, later this year, Natale Builders plans to begin work on a residential project along California Drive that will see a mix of market-rate apartments and townhouses developed along with some senior housing options. The project could add $14 million to Williamsville’s assessed tax base.

A $3 million streetscape renovation along a stretch of Main Street should also be completed. The project includes period streetlights, plantings, pedestrian islands and a slightly narrowing of the street.

“It will be one of the most pedestrian-friendly Main Streets in the area,” Kulpa said.

The work follows other upgrades made to key Williamsville landmarks like creating a people-friendly plaza near the historic Williamsville Water Mill and plans to added a boardwalk and observation points in Glen Park.

“We want this to be a place where people want to be,” Kulpa said. “No, actually, we want this to be a place where people say ‘you have to see.’”

Kulpa thinks the byproduct of the village’s efforts will be increased private sector-driven residential projects much like those that Natale Builders and Bevilaqua have in their respective development pipelines. Some studies show the village area could absorb as many as 455 new residential units — a combination of single family homes, apartments and condos, during the next five years, That translates to 91 new units each year.

Angelo Natale, Natale Builders president, thinks that is a realistic benchmark.

“Williamsville is a viewed as a very stable region,” Natale said. “We have learned there is a lot of demand (for Williamsville housing options) and it is not just from people in Williamsville. It is from people in Clarence, in Lancaster, and even, Buffalo.”