Williamsville mayor has big plans for village

Buffalo Business First

Buoyed by a pair of residential-based projects and completion of a $3 million makeover along Main Street, the Village of Williamsville is poised to be a suburban development hot spot.

At least that’s the hope of Mayor Brian Kulpa, who released his “Prospectus: Williamsville” blueprint.

He said he would like to see investors utilize the 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 guesswork out of our planning board.”

That paid off.

Bevilacqua & Associates expects to start work next month on a nearly $10 million development project across from Williamsville South High School that replaces a series of older buildings.

The 56,000-square-foot building, dubbed Lymstone Lofts, will include 20 market-rate apartments and street-level retail.

President Jonathan Bevilacqua said the retail space is attracting the attention of national and local tenants.

No leases have been signed yet.

“We are being very careful with our tenant selection,” Bevilacqua said.

And later this year, Natale Builders will begin work on a project along California Drive that will include a mix of market-rate apartments and townhouses, as well as senior housing options.

The project could add $14 million to the village’s assessed tax base.

The Natale project will get the first review by the Williamsville Planning Board on March 7.

A $3 million streetscape renovation of a key stretch of Main Street is expected to be completed soon. It features period streetlights, decorative plantings, pedestrian islands and a slight narrowing of the street.

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

The work follows other upgrades that included the creation of a people-friendly plaza near the Williamsville Water Mill. There also are plans to add 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 it.’ ”

Among the byproducts of village efforts will be an increased number of private-sector residential projects, he said. Studies show the village could absorb as many as 455 new units over the next five years, a combination of single-family homes, apartments and condos.

That translates to 91 units each year.

That is a realistic goal, said Angelo Natale, president of Natale Builders.

“Williamsville is viewed as a very stable region,” he said. “We have learned that there is a lot of demand (for housing options).

“And it is not just from people in Williamsville. It is from people in Clarence, in Lancaster and even Buffalo,” he said.

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