by Joshua Maloni
Big changes may be in store for a prominent stretch of the Village of Lewiston.
The Buffalo-based Ellicott Development has purchased 756, 784-790 Center St., and adjacent vacant land on Onondaga Street (bordering North Eighth Street) from HoganWillig PLLC. Current tenants of these properties include The Country Doctor, Grandpaws Pet Emporium and Smith Brothers Pizza.
Ellicott Development CEO William Paladino signed the property transfer and has served as the point person on the $1.4 million transaction. The sale was finalized Nov. 7.
William's father, former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, founded Ellicott Development, a property management, leasing and development firm, in 1973.
Multiple sources have told the Sentinel that the properties will eventually be transformed into a plaza that could house a retail chain store, a fast food restaurant and a bank branch. However, no development plans have been delivered to the Village of Lewiston Planning Board.
When asked if he could provide details on his company's intentions for its new purchase, William Paladino said, "No, not at this time."
He said Ellicott Development has had its eye on this property since 1996.
"It's a quaint town," he said of Lewiston. "It's been on our radar for a long time. We like Niagara Falls; we like Niagara County. We feel it's got a lot of amenities and has needed some different services. We think it's a nice opportunity for us."
For now, then, all is status quo with the affected businesses. None of the three are closing, and representatives of The Country Doctor, Grandpaws Pet Emporium and Smith Brothers said they expect to remain in place until at least the spring of 2013.
"We haven't made any definitive plans with regard to the property - if the buildings will stay or go - at this point in time," William Paladino said. "Any time that we buy property such as this, we always try to accommodate the existing tenancies, if we are to remove the current structures."
Whatever is decided, he said, "We hope to be able to get started sometime late spring - early summer."
At this time, William Paladino said he doesn't know when his company will submit plans to the Village of Lewiston.
Some of The Country Doctor's co-op members plan to move into the former Rita's Memory Lane site on the corner of Center and North Sixth streets. They will call their operation "From Antique to Chic."
The Smith brothers, for whom the pizzeria is named, plan to stay on Eighth and Center - either in their current spot or within whatever Ellicott Development creates.
Grandpaws Pet Emporium staff declined to offer any information.
Employees of each of the three Lewiston businesses said William Paladino has been both forthcoming and fair.
"He's been very up-front and honest with me," said The Country Doctor's Mary St. Laurent. She added, "He's been very good with me. I can't say anything bad. He sponsored our petting zoo here (during the Lewiston Christmas Walk); he brought a very nice sign. ... It turned out very nice."
The Center and Onondaga street properties are located within an R-B-2 commercial district. Drug stores and restaurants are among the permitted uses, while banks and financial institutions require a special use permit.
The Ellicott Development website states the company manages more than 1 million square feet of retail space throughout New York and Western Pennsylvania.
The firm bought the Lewiston properties from HoganWillig, which had acquired the property from Ed and Diane Finkbeiner.