AMHERST, NY (WKBW) — The University Plaza, which along the border of Buffalo and Amherst is up for sale. So, what will become of the popular shopping site?
“This is a central location to a lot of things for a lot of people in the community,” remarked Ellis Dudley, Buffalo resident.
Dudley shops weekly at the university plaza. He relies on public transportation, so it makes it an ideal site to pick up groceries and other items.
Dudley said he’s hoping a new owner will keep these stores in place.
The Plaza is actually located in the town of Amherst across from the University at Buffalo’s south, Main Street campus.
Amherst town supervisor Brian Kulpa tells 7 Eyewitness News he would like the next owner to redevelop and diversify the plaza with mixed use of retail and housing that would be attractive to grad students and young professionals.
“Anytime something like this goes on – it’s a catch 22 – right? You want to see properties reinvested and this property has been tired for a little while, but at the same time has a lot of users,” Kupla explained.
There are more than 20 retail shops here at the university plaza with Tops Market as the main anchor and what we found is some very vibrant shopping.
But Supervisor Kulpa says he would like to see Tops renovate the store and a new plaza owner keep the leases with the current business.
The owner of nickel city outlet just signed a new five-year lease and is moving into the former record theater space. Worker Briana Diaehl says she would like to see a new owner clean up garbage in the Plaza and make sure it’s plowed and salted in the winter but would like to see the stores remain in place.
“It’s like a big deal to have something that has so much variety between cloths and groceries and different restaurants and I know City Trends is supposed to go in there, so to have all of that right here is big for people, I think if it changed there would definitely be some upset consumers.
The Plaza pulls in shoppers from Buffalo, Amherst, Tonawnada and UB. Kulpa says he wants the next developer to see the potential and improve the shopping center and consider housing mixed within.
“We’re hoping is that there’s going to be developers bidding on this – who see the south campus and say ‘hey there’s a lot of potential’. This is a fully entrenched urban shopping center that has the south campus with grad students on it from UB, that has dense neighborhoods backing up to it – it’s very vibrant. mixed income with lots of social energy,” replied Kulpa.
But Buffalo resident Dudley tells us he does not see a need to include student housing, fearing it would change what the Plaza current offers.
“I’m sure that there’s other locations in the city close to where we’re at right now to convert apartments for housing for students because right here is a central location for a lot of seniors in the area and people like me that live in the community,” Dudley said.
Supervisor Kulpa says added student housing would offer the right energy for graduate students who want to live in the city near the campus, but not in a dorm room.
“The issue isn’t so much – hey I want to rip out all of these things and put students there. We love the fact that people from Bailey people, from Main Street, people from the University Heights area – residents of those areas come here - the bottom line is I acknowledge the bus transfers stations in there are awful,” Kulpa stated.