UPDATE: The Boulevard Mall has been sold at auction with the winning bid totaling $24,050,000.
News 4 has confirmed Sinatra Development was the final and winning bid for the mall.
The Amherst Chamber of Commerce released a statement this afternoon regarding Sinatra Development placing the highest bid on the mall:
We are excited to see a local developer who has already made a strong investment in our community take over this vital project in Amherst,” says A.J. Baynes, President/CEO of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce. “The town and the Chamber have been working aggressively on Niagara Falls Boulevard upgrading infrastructure and rezoning proposals to allow for a revamp more in tune with today’s marketplace. Ultimately, we hope this project includes the addition of the light rail to better connect the City of Buffalo with Amherst and the University at Buffalo.”
ORIGINAL: The Boulevard Mall went on the auction block, Monday, the start of a three-day online auction, which may be a bit of irony.
Just as Internet shopping has taken a big bite out of brick-and-mortar stores such as the national chains that anchor shopping malls, including the Boulevard Mall, it is the Internet that could save the mall by attracting a quality owner.
The Boulevard Mall was Buffalo’s first indoor shopping center when it opened in 1962, and it has been a survivor, outlasting other local malls that have come and gone, such as the Seneca Mall in West Seneca, the Thruway and Appletree malls in Cheektowaga, and the Summit Mall in Wheatfield, just to name a few.
Now, many retail experts say the Amherst shopping complex on Niagara Falls Boulevard it is going to survive again, but they believe it is going to morph into what is called a “lifestyle center”.
That is about the only way George Hamburger of Hanna Commercial Real Estate believes the Boulevard Mall can make it, “You would see a little bit of everything. You would see people living there, working there, maybe exercising there. Sometimes it is almost whatever the mind can imagine.”
Hamburger points out a shopping mall has limitations, as far as its hours and days of use, “It is all pretty much 8-to-6 or 9-to-9 at night and that’s it. But when most places close you’ve got to do something to create more activity so everybody can do some business.”
While a lifestyle center, Hamburger said, can have retail, office, and even residential uses, and he said shopping malls in other areas of the country have successfully transitioned to lifestyle centers.
A.J. Baynes, President of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce said, the Boulevard Mall is in a federally-designated Opportunity Zone which should attract investors.
“Especially with a parcel as large as the Boulevard Mall, the undertaking of a project that large it really makes it attractive to investors from across the country.”
With the heavy traffic that comes through that area of Amherst, Baynes believes the Boulevard Mall should have no trouble reinventing itself.
“Given the proximity to the I-290, and that proximity to Canada, the proximity to the city of Buffalo, you have the wherewithal to attract a lot of different people from the region.”
The Boulevard Mall could be the first or second Buffalo-area shopping mall to transform into a lifestyle center. The owners of the Eastern Hills Mall are already making plans to re-purpose the Town of Clarence complex into a lifestyle center.
The auction is set to wrap up Wednesday.