Like it or not, Ellicott Development Co.’s controversial mixed use project on Main Street in Amherst is officially open for business.
The six-story building at 5195 Main St. at South Forest Road in Amherst houses a 120-room Wyndham Garden hotel and 33 high-end apartments.
On Wednesday, hotel staff were busy readying the hotel for the arrival of its first big VIP booking.
“We’re the official hotel of the Buffalo Bills, so they’ll be staying with us before every home game,” said William Paladino, CEO of Ellicott Development. “They’re coming tonight after their big kickoff celebration.”
The Bills contract will fill a total of 85 rooms with players and support staff.
Despite being open, the building is still under construction. Workmen spilled out onto the sidewalk and weaved in and out of the lobby on Wednesday. Inside the luxurious but sparsely outfitted lobby, a sign on a small metal table near a glass-front fireplace read, “We are looking forward to additional lobby furniture arriving soon.”
Of the 33 apartments, dubbed the Residences at the Mosey, 14 have been leased. Those 14 are expected to be completed by the end of next week, with the rest scheduled for completion by Oct. 1.
Brioso by Butterwood, a restaurant on the building’s first floor, currently provides limited food service to the hotel but won’t be ready to serve the public until the middle of September.
Another 2,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor has not yet been leased. The company has been in talks with possible tenants and hopes to fill the space with a salon.
The hotel’s reservation system went live Friday, but the 30 guests it served over the weekend came to the hotel as walk-ins, according to Paladino.
The hotel is geared toward the higher end of the market and caters to business travelers, but Paladino expects to do brisk business with wedding parties as well.
Some residents opposed the $35 million project, feeling it was too tall, too close to the sidewalk and out of place in what many consider a quaint suburban community. The hotel sits very near Williamsville but is in Amherst.
Amherst Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein said he has heard from many angry residents who are still voicing their distaste with the building. Weinstein said the feathers the project ruffled has led him to believe the town needs to take a fresh look at its zoning and planning processes. But he said an influx of guests to the area would benefit the many businesses lining Main Street and the surrounding area.
“I feel that a hotel in Williamsville is good for business in general,” he said.
Carl Winkler doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.
It’s big and close to the street, he said, but it is no more distracting than any of the other buildings nearby.
Surrounding the hotel are a nursing home, a five-story apartment complex, a McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Mobil gas station, Tops grocery store, Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway restaurant. It’s also very near the Youngmann Highway.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Winkler said. “I think it’s fine where it is. If it were down on the other end by the park and all of that, that would be a different story.”
Richard Gilbert, who travels Main Street twice a week to deliver dry cleaning in the area said the bigger problem on Main Street is traffic, and he imagines additional cars from the hotel and apartments will worsen that problem.
“There was a truck in front of the hotel today that had traffic all backed up and that was just at 10 this morning,” Gilbert said. “I can’t imagine what’s to come.”