Developers want to turn the Eastern Hills Mall into a town center: a place for the community to come together to shop, work, and relax.
“There’s going to be something for everyone,” said Carl Montante, the vice president of marketing and strategies initiatives at the Uniland Development Company.
The Uniland Development Company and Mountain Development Corporation hosted a public information meeting Tuesday night at the mall to discuss a proposed project that could dramatically change the look of the Eastern Hills Mall. They want to transform the mall into the Eastern Hills Town Center, a 3 million square foot mixed-use urban village full of shops, restaurants, town homes, hotels, and arts and cultural centers.
“We’ve got great demographics, great spending, great education among the residents and they’re also asking for a diversity of new experiences, so really that’s the sort of market and sort of ground work to create something special and memorable,” said Marc Bruffett, a strategy director and client relationship leader based out of Gensler New York.
The project is in its beginning stages, that’s why developers want community input on what they want to see come to life. People at the meeting mentioned having concerts at the town center, recommended a pool being built there, and questioned the development’s impact on traffic and surrounding communities.
“We still have a lot of room, a lot of time to tweak because this is as much a community project as it is a real estate development project so we need that feedback,” said Montante.
Developers plan to keep the two-story parts of the mall like the Raymour & Flanigan and the BFLO store. They would re-adapt the one-story portion of the mall. They say it could take 25 years for the multi-phase project to be completed. But in their eyes, it’s worth it.
“This type of project exists in many other cities around the country but to this scale it does not exist in Western New York, a walkable, mixed-use place that offers everything you might want without having to get into a car and it’s that kind of environment and lifestyle that I’m really looking forward to sharing,” said Montante.
The project has yet to be approved. Developers hope the Town of Clarence approves it in 2020. If so, shovels could be in the ground as early as 2021. They say the mall would not close during construction.