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Development threatens unique Elmwood Strip

Has anyone noticed what is happening on what has been the busiest, most vital section of Elmwood Avenue? Today in the area between Cleveland and Auburn, the only parking lot in the area was blocked off for “earth study,” or something of that nature, in preparation for Benchmark Development’s planned three-story apartment building to be built on that lot. The parking lot across the street also belongs to Benchmark and is now reserved for patrons of the adjacent building only, which includes a newly opened chain eatery. I thought Elmwood Village Association was supposed to support the strength of local merchants. Without parking availability, the merchants will suffer.

The building Benchmark plans will abut the sidewalk with retail storefronts, and reportedly will have underground parking for the tenants of the 24 apartments. This is called “urban density.” I think it is going to ruin what has been a vibrant area with local businesses when the available parking is gone. Elmwood Village Association dropped the ball as I see it, to allow this behemoth building to sail by permits and get variances from the city. During the construction, the area will be a nightmare to negotiate. Local merchants who tried to stand up to the big-box developers were silenced, with the association championing this development. I do not understand why.

In case nobody noticed, Benchmark put up a building for another chain coffee shop on Elmwood and Bryant with apartments and two retail storefronts a couple of years ago. The retail storefronts are still empty.

We have lived in Elmwood Village for 32 years. I am greatly disheartened by this development, which has the potential to destroy the unique nature of the Elmwood Strip.

Lucia Sleight

Buffalo