ELLICOTTVILLE - It has stood empty for nearly 20 years. The gateway to Allegany and St. Bonaventure University, the first thing visible off Exit 24 on Interstate 86. The building that used to house the Allegany Kmart may soon see new life.
Kody Sprague, of Sprague development, is looking to invest over $3 million into the building to attract businesses to the area, as well as to offer a cleaner sight to those who are heading to St. Bonaventure and Allegany, be it as a student, a parent, or even a tourist, looking for new areas.
The building is in need of a new roof to cover the 100,000-plus square foot space, as well as facade, interior and utility renovations, Sprague told the members of the Cattaraugus County IDA, searching for sales tax abatement and a 10-year PILOT for the facility. The short-term jobs outlook for the project is expected employ workers with at least 15 local contractors. Once the development is completed, the plan is to deliver 100 new jobs, according to project specifications presented to the members of the IDA.
"We are still in our due diligence phase of this development," Sprague said. "It is one of the stepping stones. The entire roof will need replaced, and that's a big rubber roof. That would be our first action, as well as renovations to the facade to make the place look better than it does now."
Sprague said he has no tenants lined up, nor has he spoken to any businesses at this time, but he told the members of the IDA that the facility is a key to development in that portion of the county.
Corey Wiktor, IDA executive director, agreed, saying the property has been listed as a key to development on many assessments of the county that have done in the past.
"That area is the gateway to St. Bonaventure University," he said. "There are a lot of possibilities in that area, if we can get some development at this site."
The property last functioned as a Kmart store in 1995. Since then, Wiktor said there was a small sorting operation in the building. Members of the board remembered the facility from when it was built in the late 1960s, as a vibrant place to go, housing a Wegmans, a pharmacy, even a restaurant and a bar.
"When it was built, it was completely full," said James Boser, Allegany resident and county legislator, as well as a member of the IDA Board. "It did well for several years, until stores started moving out. We would love to see it back in operation. It is an eyesore to the whole town."
One area has prevented serious development at the facility, according to Wiktor. The town sewer district does not yet include the facility. When the building was last functioning, it was serviced by wells and septic systems. Four years ago, the water district was expanded to include the building.
John Hare, town of Allegany supervisor, offered his support of the project as well, saying it would even help in promotion of the extension of the sewer district.
"It is a terrific project," he said. "We will be working hard in the town to extend the sewer. This gives us more impetus to get it done."
Sprague Development has recently been named one of three finalists for the Buffalo Business First "Brick by Brick" award in the Best Retail Project for the Ellicottville Square development. That project has added 54 new jobs to the Ellicottville area, as well as reused a former Louisville Slugger manufacturing facility to create a multiuse facility.