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A new Panera Bread on Elmwood Avenue received approval from the Planning Board on Tuesday, but more approvals are needed for the restaurant to move ahead.
Several neighbors and interested parties spoke against the project, which has been modified from its original plan and is slated to replace a Blockbuster store.
The Common Council's Legislation Committee, which also met Tuesday, decided to send it to the full Council without recommendation, and members said they were interested to hear what the Zoning Board of Appeals will say about the project when it meets Oct. 10.
Plans for a Panera in Elmwood Village have received mixed opinions from residents and city officials.
In response to some concerns, plans for the restaurant now call for a tiled exterior and removal of an exterior sign on a pole.
A proposed sign on the side of the restaurant facing a parking lot also will be removed.
The restaurant would replace a functioning video store that its manager said is profitable and draws people from all over the area, because of the lack of local video rental options.
However, the store's landlord, the Benchmark Group, said it had been notified by Blockbuster's headquarters that the store will close, though the date is uncertain.
Benchmark received a 60-day notification in January that the store would close but has continued to operate at the mutual agreement of both parties, said Benchmark Chief Executive Officer Steve Longo.
Blockbuster store manager Brett Lambrix told the Council committee the store has no intention of closing and wants to extend its lease. A Blockbuster corporate representative did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. Blockbuster is a subsidiary of Dish Network.
Also Tuesday, the Planning Board recommended approval to the Council for abandonment of a portion of Lafayette Square for use by the Hamister Group, which is redeveloping the Tishman Building into a hotel, apartments and office space.
The exact boundaries of the land in question have not been established, but project representative Patricia J. Paul assured Council members the parameters would be put in writing by today.
A public hearing on the easement will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 18, and a vote by the Council is expected to follow the hearing.
In other Planning Board business:
. A new building for the Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Club on Ohio Street was approved. The 16,000-square-foot, two-level structure will house the club's operation.
. An addition on the Buffalo Club, at 388 Delaware Ave., which will house a fitness center, including more locker room space and a double squash court, was approved.
. Demolition of 12 vacant two-story and two one-story duplex units at 172 E. North St. was approved.
The property is owned by the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority; demolition is intended to make the site shovel-ready for development.
. A conversion of retail space to a restaurant at Dolci Dessert Bakery, 802 Elmwood, was recommended for approval by the Council.
Dolci already serves soup, salads and sandwiches to dine-in customers, and during an afternoon Legislation Committee meeting, Council Member Michael LoCurto asked bakery representative David Simpson what will be different at the bakery.
"It would be legal," Simpson said.

email: jterreri@buffnews.com