Location central to Cabela's Cheektowaga plan

June 4, 2013 Updated Jun 4, 2013 at 3:26 PM EDT

By James Fink, Business First

...

Location central to Cabela's Cheektowaga plan

June 4, 2013 Updated Jun 4, 2013 at 3:26 PM EDT

Construction on the planned Cabela’s Cheektowaga store is expected to start later this summer, following a few mandated reviews by public officials.

The 90,000-square-foot Cabela’s store, the first in New York state, is slated to open by late summer 2014 as part of a dramatic makeover of a Walden Avenue shopping center by the property’s owner, Benderson Development Co. The project also includes the first Home 2, select service hotel, that is planned for the western portion of the 24-acre property. The 108-room, all-suites, hotel also slated to open next year, Benderson officials said.

The hotel, designed to attract visiting shoppers, was one of the perks Benderson put together to help land the retailing giant. The project, whose development price tag is still being determined, is privately funded by Benderson.

Cabela’s and Benderson officially confirmed the project Monday afternoon, cementing a courtship that began nearly two years ago. The deal was put together with help from Pyramid Brokerage Co. and assistance from Cheektowaga Supervisor Mary Holtz.

“It was a confluence of events that all came together,” said Eric Recoon, Benderson vice president of development and leasing.

The key was landing the right site.

As talks progressed, Benderson was able to secure the former Walden Village Shopping Center last fall for $10.5 million. The center has a Burlington Coat Factory and a long-vacant, nearly 100,000-square-foot store that housed a Wegmans Food Market and later an Ultimate Electronics location. While the Burlington Coat Factory store will remain, Benderson will be razing the former Wegmans store and replacing it with the specially-designed Cabela’s. The Home 2 hotel will go just west of the Burlington Coat Factory site, according to a blueprint designed by the Buffalo architectural and engineering firm, Carmina Wood & Morris P.C.

Benderson is also negotiating to bring a Cabela’s to Massachusetts.

Recoon said Benderson’s talks with Cabela began before the Walden Village property was acquired. Its location was one of the key tipping points.

The plaza, now renamed Cabela’s Crossing, sits across from the Walden Galleria and next to the New York State Thruway.

“It is just a great location,” said Mark Neinhueser, Cabela’s vice president of construction and real estate. “It was exactly what we were looking for.”

Western New York was attractive because of the high number of licensed fishermen and hunters, the same statistic that caught the eye of Bass Pro Shops — a retailing rival to Cabela’s. Local officials spent nine years courting Bass Pro before the company decided in 2010 not to come to downtown Buffalo, even though it was offered a handsome public-sector incentive package.

“We did a lot of direct and Internet sales from Western New York,” Neinhueser said.

The publicly-traded Cabela’s has 44 stores with the closest in Columbus, Ohio, or Allentown, Pa.

Recoon and Neinhueser expect the store to be a major retailing draw, bringing in customers from across New York state, Pennsylvania and Southern Ontario.

“Buffalo will feel the economic benefits of Cabela’s being here buy virtue of all the people coming here to shop at the store,” said Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo. “There will be a strong spin off.”

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.