Amherst, NY (WBEN) - Amherst Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa says he's using eminent domain to speed up the transformation of Boulevard Mall into a town center, as envisioned by owner Doug Jemal. Kulpa tells WBEN it was actually Jemal's idea to use eminent domain.
Kulpa says the eminent domain process has been unfolding for almost a year. "We've entered that process with partners in Douglas Development and Benderson, as a group, heading towards ways to get out of some of these leases and some of these ghost leases, and be able to progress on that site and get infrastructure into that site and turn it into the mixed use communities," explains Kulpa. Kulpa says he's also talking with JC Penney, which owns its store at Boulevard Mall.
Kulpa notes it was Jemal's idea to take the eminent domain route despite Jemal's ownership of mall property. "The reality for both Douglas and the other owners is there's a lot of intertwined scenarios that happened," explains Kulpa. "Some of these companies don't even operate in the mall, and there are still leases in their name. So as a way to kind of reset everything that there's some transactions that would happen on paper." He says when he started the process, he was going to do 'right of way' takings to build infrastructure path, but it became obvious any buildout was going to require something very different.
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He says the goal is to expedite the transition to a town center. "It will expedite this probably by years, possibly a decade if you look at some of those leases. So the process that could have taken 10 to 15 years to have some of these leases actually go away, is now something that's able to be done in one to two years," notes Kulpa.
Kulpa expects to work through the summer and fall into the winter with the idea of starting demolition by spring of 2024.