The historic water mill has sat vacant in Williamsville for the better part of six years, but the old gal has suddenly become the talk of the village with the emergence of a new suitor:
A popular village ice cream and chocolate shop.
Howard and Tara Cadmus, owners of Sweet Jenny’s Ice Cream, at 5732 Main St., have submitted a proposal with the Village of Williamsville to relocate their sweet shop to the 1811 mill at 56 E. Spring Street along the banks of Ellicott Creek.
“She’s a beautiful girl,” said Howard Cadmus, an attorney running for a seat on the Amherst Town Board, “and you can’t just have her sit the way she’s been sitting.”
But the scenario creates a bit of a quandary for the village, which holds ownership to the Williamsville Water Mill and two adjacent buildings after rescuing them from foreclosure in 2005.
A few years ago the village worked out an agreement with Iskalo Development Corp. to redevelop the property for boutique shops, upscale lodging and an anchor restaurant inside the mill.
But nothing ever came of it and the agreement with the village has since lapsed, officials said.
Now, the husband and wife team is proposing a lease-purchase agreement and say they could move into the mill within weeks, jump-starting even bigger plans for the village.
Williamsville wants to make Spring Street a village square – sidewalks, plantings, small shops – with the old mill serving as the anchor.
While village officials don’t want to walk away from an $8 million project proposed by an established developer, it also can’t ignore an attractive offer from a popular local business.
Williamsville Mayor Brian J. Kulpa still hopes both scenarios could happen, but if they can’t, he’ll put the question to villagers.
“It’s our mill right now. What do we want?” Kulpa said. “I’m not going to act on anything until we have some kind of consensus.”
The issue will be up for discussion at the Village Board meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Village Hall, 5565 Main St.
Kulpa hopes to have some type of resolution within the next few weeks. Iskalo did not return a message seeking comment on Wednesday.
In 2011, Howard and Tara Cadmus bought Sweet Jenny’s, a village institution since 1985.
The two first approached Iskalo a couple years ago about leasing space at the mill should the company redevelop the property.
But the couple is forcing the issue now, because they need more space for production of their ice cream and chocolates.
“In the last three years we’ve had the business, we’ve grown quite a bit,” said Tara Cadmus.
“We’ve had offers from distributors that we can’t give ice cream to because we don’t have the facilities to keep that much on hand,” she said.
They envision using the first floor for production and retail sales. The second-floor space could host children’s parties. The sub-basement, which still has the original mill stone, would have more of a historical theme.
“I see the mill as the heart of Williamsville and it needs to start pumping again,” Howard Cadmus said. “That’s why we submitted the proposal.”