A subsidiary of Ellicott Development has its eye on the former Thomas drugstore site on Main Street in East Aurora, hoping to build a pediatric dental office there and fix a dilapidated home on the property.
The parcel is highly visible within what’s known as the village’s Mid-Main section of Main Street and was the site of two suspicious fires in August 2011 that led to the demolition of the former drugstore and caused damage to an apartment house at the rear of the vacant building.
Village officials are expected to meet informally Monday with attorney Peter J. Sorgi, who is representing the developer, to give them a sense of what government leaders may prefer for the project. The former Thomas location had become an Eckerd drugstore in recent years before that went out of business.
The village typically is very careful in its review of developers’ proposals, but particularly in the Mid-Main zone, where there is an emphasis on retaining its residential character.
And Sorgi, from East Aurora himself, knows that. “The Mid-Main zoning is very important, and we need to be in tune with that area,” Sorgi said Thursday. “Anybody who buys that site is going to have to be creative about it. It’s a very tight spot. But the [pediatric dental office] is a good use for the land. Hopefully, it will work out.”
Sorgi said the developer has a contingent plan to purchase the drugstore property, now owned by Linwood Estates of Boston, provided that site plan approval and any possible zoning variances are in place.
The village Planning Commission also will talk with Ellicott Development in January. Sorgi said that no plan has been formally proposed or filed but that the developer wants to get a sounding from officials. “We like to start and see what kind of architecture they would like for that site,” Sorgi said. “We want to get a sense of what the village wants, and then we’d go forward with a plan.”
Sorgi said University Pediatric Dentistry is interested in locating an office at the site, and the developer also would want to fix the dilapidated home on the property and continue to rent it.
“Hopefully, it could be a win-win for the village, and we could fix up the house and develop the old Thomas drugstore,” Sorgi said. “We’re respectful of the village and its interest in saving buildings, and also [develop] a vacant site.”
Planning Commission Chairman Daniel R. Castle said his board will meet with the developer sometime in early January. “This site is the heart of Mid-Main and in the middle of the village,” Castle said. “It’s absolutely critical to see it done right and be something that fits in Mid-Main.”
Mid-Main is an overlay district that runs from Village Hall at Main and Paine streets to the lower end of Main by Pasquale’s Restaurant. The overlay is a way to ensure that the area’s residential character is retained.
Mayor Allan A. Kasprzak said a variance may be needed for the project from the Zoning Board of Appeals, in addition to the Planning Commission eventually requiring a formal development plan. In the end, it would require approval from the Village Board.