Buffalo neighborhood fights City Hall over planned coffee shop

Local News

An Eastside neighborhood group is challenging the city’s approval of Tim Hortons coffee shop in the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor.

The Heritage Corridor is attracting tourists and attention all over the United States and Canada, in addition to government money pouring in to encourage more cultural tourism.

City planners have given developers the go-ahead to build a Tim Hortons Coffee and Bake Shop on a vacant lot at Michigan and William streets, right in the middle of the Heritage Corridor.

The Hortons would be built on the site of the historic Little Harlem Hotel, which was destroyed by fire in 1993, and while neighbors say they are not opposed to the coffee shop itself, they are afraid the drive through service will attract too many cars.

Gail Wells of the Copper Town Block Club believes the additional traffic could be a safety hazard and discourage pedestrian tourists which they are trying to promote.

“We just really need to have any development that comes down promoting a walkable neighborhood and making sure that people are safe because we are trying to build a tourist area here.”

But Ellicott Development, which owns the lot has made a number of changes to their original plans, including restricting access to Tim Hortons from William Street only. There would be no entrance from Michigan Street.

Members of the Copper Town Block Club are taking the city to court, in a Chapter 78 proceeding, because they claim city laws require additional steps before the Hortons project could be approved.

Buffalo attorney Stephanie Adams represents the Copper Town plaintiffs and said it is all about allowing her clients to be heard in the approval process.

“A chance to not only have their voice be heard, but have their voice be heard on the basis of accurate information–having been given to them in a timely way–so that when they give their input, their voice matters.”

Ellicott Development CEO Bill Paladino said they have taken into account public comments, and made changes to come up with the safest and best plan for the Tim Hortons. A spokesman for the city declined comment, citing the pending litigation.

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