Williamsville sets deadline for bids on water mill

March 6, 2014 Updated Mar 6, 2014 at 10:31 AM EDT

By James Fink, Buffalo Business First

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Williamsville sets deadline for bids on water mill

March 6, 2014 Updated Mar 6, 2014 at 10:31 AM EDT

With a formal offer already presented, the village of Williamsville has set a hard deadline for other development interests who want to buy the historic Williamsville Water Mill.

The owners of Sweet Jenny's ice cream and sweets shop officially made an offer to purchase the circa 1812 landmark and two adjoining East Spring Street properties. Howard and Tara Cadmus, Sweet Jenny's owners, offered to buy the buildings for $450,000 - the same price the village of Williamsville paid for the properties more than five years ago.

However, before the offer is accepted, Williamsville officials want to see if other developers have an interest and are willing to purchase the complex. To that end, the Williamsville has set a 4 p.m., March 24 deadline for any bids.

"It's time to draw a line," said Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa. "We can't let this drag on forever."

That the Cadmus' made an offer is far from surprising. The couple has trying to purchase the water mill since last year. They are operating the popular Sweet Jenny's from the mill's main building on a month-to-month lease.

For the past few years, Iskalo Development has held a designated developer status for the water mill but that designation expired last year, Kulpa said.

But, Kulpa said it is only fair and ethical to issue the deadline to the rest of the development and real estate investment community. Besides the sale price, Kulpa does not want the mill land land-banked. Whatever offer is made must include a development time table.

"I do understand some development benchmarks will have to be determined," Kulpa said. "But, it is tough to say what those exact benchmarks are until you know who the user is."

Seeing the water mill brought back to life is one of the top economic development priorities in Williamsville and dovetails with efforts to make its Main Street business spine more pedestrian and shopper-friendly.

"Politically and socially, it is a popular idea," Kulpa said. "Economically, it also makes sense."

The Cadmus' proposal centers on using the water mill as the base for Sweet Jenny's manufacturing and retail operations. Sweet Jenny's produces candy, ice cream and baked goods, among other items. The neighboring Zent House, also a historical landmark, would be renovated for Howard Cadmus' law practice while the Mill House, the third landmark on the property, is being eyed as the "Village Brewery," that would produce and sell craft beers.

Kulpa said he has fielded a number of inquiries about the water mill property including someone who said it would make an ideal bed-and-breakfast and another who suggested opening a bakery in the building.

"A lot of people have said 'I'd love to do this' or 'I'd love to do that'," Kulpa said. "But, until someone comes forward with a full proposal and purchase offer, we have to deal with what we already know."

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