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Lakewood retail projects clear first round of approvals

OBSERVER Photo by Michael Zabrodsky From left Lakewood Zoning and Planning Board Members John Jablonski, and Lou Drago look at site plans while Andy Johnson, Principal Engineer at ECO Strategies Engineering and Surveying, of Falconer, talks about the proposed Chipotle and Popeye’s co-development the Chautauqua Mall, 318 E. Fairmount Ave., Lakewood.

LAKEWOOD – Two retail business projects cleared their first hurdle Tuesday at the Lakewood Zoning and Planning Board meeting.

Board members gave their recommendation for a Chipotle and Popeye’s co-development project at 318 E. Fairmount Ave., and for a variance for Wal-Mart at 350 E. Fairmount Ave.

Both projects now will have to receive approval from the Lakewood Village Board of Trustees.

According to Andy Johnson, principal engineer at ECO Strategies Engineering and Surveying of Falconer, the site plan calls for a request for the use of the empty parking spaces in front of JCPenney and redevelop the existing space. The plan is to take this space and build two new outparcel buildings to house Chipotle and Popeye’s fast-food restaurants. The redevelopment will include reduction of impervious surfaces and addition of green space in the form of rain gardens.

ECO submitted the application on behalf of the Chicago-based company, Quattro Development LLC.

“It’s on a one-acre parcel at 318 Fairmount, which is the Chautauqua Mall property,” Johnson said. “And it’s the parking lot basically in between the Taco Bell breakfast to the west and the Olive Garden to the east, that old JCPenney’s parking lot area, and the plan is basically just redeveloped and repurpose that parking lot, which is underutilized, and offer some new food services to Lakewood.”

Johnson said the plans also call for adding six to eight trees to provide some shade and habitat aesthetics, and to improve the storm water runoff.

“As these trees mature and get bigger, they are going to provide shade, and I think add a lot of value,” Johnson noted.

“I looked at it as quite an improvement,” said Board Member Jack McCray.

Board Member John Jablonski agreed.

“It’s going to be better than it is now,” Jablonski said.

Johnson noted that Quattro has not closed on the property and still is in negotiations with Kohan Retail Investment Group, which owns Chautauqua Mall.

Johnson added that Quattro strategically picked the spot at the mall so that the company didn’t need to add extra driveways or disrupt the flow of traffic.

“You’ll still be able to use all the same driveways and entrance points. They’re not asking to do anything new,” Johnson said.

Board Chairman Gary Segrue received a communication from Courtney Domst, Chautauqua County junior planner, stating that the proposed action would have no significant countywide or inter-community impact, and that the proposal would be a matter of local concern.

Chautauqua Mall General Manager Julie Bihler said the mall would be willing to consider adding trees, based on a good recommendation by ECO Strategies.

For Wal-Mart, Justin Lattierre of Colliers Engineering said the plan asks for the construction of a building

expansion of about 5,460 square feet for both online pickup and delivery expansion, and to the garden area along with associated grading, striping, and signage work. The proposed project will not result in more than one acre of disruption and there will be minimal changes to the proposed drainage patterns.

“This is part of something Wal-Mart is doing all across the country – looking to improve and expand their pickup operations,” Lattierre said.

Board Member Lou Drago also recommended a review of total parking spaces to see if a variance is required, either seasonally, or an overall variance for the number of spaces versus what village and New York State codes require.

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