by Joshua Maloni
Following William Paladino's meeting with the Village of Lewiston Planning Board Wednesday, the Sentinel asked the Ellicott Development CEO how he intends to convince residents his plaza idea is worthwhile.
"We expect to have a plan that has a little bit of give-and-take in it," he said. "We hope that people work with us because of the difficulties and challenges with the site. It's been vacant for a long time for a reason. It's very difficult to re-develop given the topography on it, and the costs associated with developing based on that topography."
"Once we get the necessary visuals in front of them that they can see and feel and get a better feel for the project at the meetings, we'll make our case there to the public," he said.
Paladino said he's had his eye on Lewiston for a long time.
"I've tried to buy or look at every block on Center Street - from First Street all the way up to Ninth Street - over the last 20 years," he said. "That site is just a big, wide-open site that you can do some things. If that site was any smaller, I wouldn't even look at it, because the topography would be impossible.
"Given the size of it, you can work with the topography. Not necessarily to what the village wants to see under its master plan, but I think with some give-and-take we can incorporate some of those elements along with elements necessary in order to develop the property and make it a nice, viable project for the tenants in the project and, obviously, the public.
"We want to bring tenants here that the public will - services the public wants; that they want to see. We've had a lot of different national tenants and local tenants over the years that want to come up here. As we looked at different projects, we just haven't been able to find the right property for them, either because of cost issues, size issues, location issues. (This) location is right in the middle of the village - you can't get any better than that location. And the size of the property is nice, but obviously it comes with its own challenges."
Many residents are concerned Paladino's project will come at the expense of his property's current tenants, Grandpaws Pet Emporium and Smith Brothers Pizza. A third tenant, The Country Doctor, already preemptively moved. The plaza proposal suggests demolishing the three existing buildings. Where the pet store sits now, that would become a roadway leading to Onondaga Street.
"We're going to have discussions with them, yes," Paladino said. "We'd like to incorporate them. They're nice people and they have nice businesses. They do well here, and they'd like to stay here. If we can accommodate them and help them out, that's what we want to do."
"For those tenants to be able to afford the rents to do this, there's got to be some give-and-take that I can have space that's affordable for them," he said.
Even if Grandpaws and Smith Brothers are incorporated into a new plaza, residents have wondered where the businesses would go, or how they would operate, during the construction process.
"We'd have to figure all that out," Paladino said. "We'd probably phase our project in order to help accommodate them."