Please use the navigation menu at bottom the Page       





                                                                                                                                                             St Mary of the Angels     Reist Mill     Historic Maps & Photos


History of Amherst State Park News Archives


Buffalo News,   February 5, 1998  by Patrick Lakamp

       Amherst's chance to buy what could become the town's only major park may be slipping away now that a developer reportedly is willing to spend $7 million for the prime land.

       First Amherst Development Group has submitted a letter of intent to buy the 100-acre site owned by the Sisters of St. Francis just north of Williamsville, according to Stephen Obletz, the company's president

       Town officials, meanwhile, have not moved beyond considering both the property and a financial partner. The religious order would consider accepting an offer of $5 million from the town for the property, Town Attorney Phillip A. Thielman wrote in a memo to Supervisor Susan J. Grelick.

       But town officials are being warned the offer may not stand for long.

       Real estate brokers for the owner told the town they are obligated to start considering one developer's offer and any others that follow, Thielman wrote.

       "They stated that they have a letter of intent from a private developer to purchase the property for $7 million," Thielman wrote.

       The Sisters of St. Francis property includes the sprawling four-story St. Mary of the Angels motherhouse built in 1927.

       The nuns would prefer to sell the land and motherhouse to the town, and they have not set a deadline, Thielman wrote.

       He said Wednesday that if the town wants the land, Town Board members "should move along with their decision-making process. It would be best if the town was first in line with an offer."

       First Amherst's Obletz acknowleded his company has sent a letter to the order but would not confirm if a $7 million offer was made.

       "We sent a letter to the sisters as an expression of our interest," Obletz said. "I don't know if you want to call it a letter of intent or not. It was not a formal offer. We're not in negotiations. It was a letter to show we're interested, to try to get a foot in the door."

       First Amherst, which develops retail and office space, has 150,000 square feet of commercial space in Williamsville, including the Center of Williamsville office building on Main Street.

       Obletz said the company has not decided how it would develop the land.

       "We have no idea what we would do," he said. "We're looking at the exciting opportunities that parcel offers, and we are looking at a number of other opportunities," he said. "We go wherever we can do the community any good."

       A real estate broker representing the order would not say whether negotiations on the parcel are under way with potential buyers.

       The order understands the community's interest in the land, said James Militello, president of J.R. Militello Realty of Buffalo.

       "The sisters are not your typical seller," Militello said. "They have a high awareness of the community around them. I can tell you they are very sensitive to what's going on around them and are very concerned about doing the right thing."

       The order plans to build a new administrative center, infirmary and residence on about nine acres adjacent to the parcel after the motherhouse at 400 Mill St. is sold.

       "An important fact is the sisters are going to remain there," Militello said.

       "So the sisters are just as concerned as other town residents about who the neighbors will be and what happens there after it's developed."

       Ms. Grelick and Council Member Peggy G. Santillo want the town to buy the land for a large, central park. Both view this mostly undeveloped parcel in southeast Amherst as the last chance to do so.

       Officials of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation are scheduled to meet with town officials Monday to talk about the land.

       Depending on how the meeting turns out, the Town Board could vote by month's end to open negotiations with the order and even buy the land, Ms. Grelick said.

       "People want a park," Ms. Grelick said. "They want a park where they can go with their families and have a barbecue and a picnic. Currently, we don't have that. That parcel would be a perfect place for it. It could be our Central Park."

       Eileen Torre, who lives near the property, collected more than 3,000 signatures on a petition to the town supporting the purchase.

       "Everybody I spoke to, the elderly and young families, said they're all for preserving this green space," she said.

       "What we don't want to see is more construction and more development," she said. "We certainly don't need more condos. The nuns are offering a sweet deal. We need this piece of property.

       map-The town of Amherst and a develpper are eyeing 100 acres of land owned by the Sisters of St. Francis.

Back to History News Archives pagehnews.html