NIAGARA FALLS - Benderson Development’s plans to add a new big box store to a Niagara Falls Boulevard plaza took a hit Wednesday night.
The city Planning Board refused to endorse the proposal that Benderson acquire a piece of the city’s right-of-way for use in the proposed project in the Niagara Consumer Square plaza. While the final decision on the matter lies with a future vote of the City Council, the Planning Board shot down Benderson’s proposal to acquire an unpaved portion of 76th Street by a 6-0 vote.
The board tabled the issue when it was initially proposed on April 23. A Benderson representative requested the city give up about 0.66 acres to the east of Niagara Consumer Square plaza, where the main existing tenants are Tops and Target. The company needed the land in order to locate an unspecified amount of contaminated soil moved from another part of the site, its representative said.
Moving the material elsewhere on the site would allow for the construction of a 65,000-square-foot store, the tenant for which Benderson has not disclosed.
The board tabled the issue for the second time two weeks ago as it waited for more information from Benderson. The city received some information, but had yet to receive everything it requested, including something beyond-preliminary cost estimates for removing the contaminated material from the site, as well as a comparison to the costs of simply moving it to another part of the site, said Thomas J. DeSantis, city senior planner.
“Benderson is not going to provide information unless Benderson wants to,” said David G. Boniello, an attorney representing a neighboring property owner who previously objected to Benderson’s proposal.
A Benderson representative could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
Board member Timothy J. Polka said Benderson does not need the city land, which is an undeveloped street north of Niagara Falls Boulevard, for the project. The company could reconfigure its plans by moving the proposed building forward on the site and removing some of the existing parking space, obtaining a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals to do so, Polka said.
Some underground utilities would have to be relocated if Benderson’s plans to relocate the contaminated material were accepted as proposed. Benderson would use some land it owns, as well as the piece to be acquired from the city, to store the material under the existing plans that weren’t endorsed by the board.
In another matter, the board put off a decision on whether to recommend to city lawmakers that the city purchase two lots, 515 Third St. and 508 Fourth St., as part of a plan to create a free public parking lot and a potentially shovel-ready development site.