Weekly Feature

2016-12-07 / Front Page

Hollow development on agenda at annual CHA Christmas party


Jean O’ Connell has been a resident of Clarence Hollow for decades, and the changes she’s seen transpire have not all been positive.

O’Connell remembers a post office next to the bowling alley and a Main Street lined with a local drugstore and a meat vendor.

“Little by little, these places went away, and the town let people come in and turn those places into rental units,” she said.

Now the president of the Clarence Hollow Association, O’Connell works to re-obtain the kind of small-town vibrancy that once made the Hollow such an attractive option for residents looking to relocate to Clarence with its rural nature.

She hopes to instill the same perspective in attendees at the CHA’s annual Christmas party on Dec. 12 at the Town Park Club House, where both residents and local property owners will be asked to give feedback as to how they would like to see development within the Hollow progress.

The free party will begin at 6 p.m. with a wine and cheese serving, followed by a presentation from business and property owners and concluding with food catered by local restaurants.

“This is the third year we’ve done this, and in past years, we’ve featured entertainment from the high school musical groups. This year, we wanted to do something different,” said O’Connell. “A lot of property has been sold in the Hollow recently, so this is an opportunity to showcase that.”

The individuals who have recently purchased properties in the Hollow and who hope to turn them into bustling businesses will discuss their plans and potential goals. Jonathan Bleuer, a junior planner for the town, will present images of the sold properties on a projector and will speak about the zoning laws that will define each property’s development parameters.

Among the recently sold properties, Bleuer says, is the Presbyterian church at 10750 Main St., on the corner of Salt Road, as well as the property behind the church, which once served as the old railroad corridor.

“Many years ago, the town approved a parking lot there, so a part of the vision will be to rework that space as more of a public area that will be an extension of the bike path, crossing over to the farmers market, which could tie in well to everything that’s happening in the Hollow,” Bleuer said.

O’Connell noted that she has sent an invitation to Paul Stephens of Stephen Development, who she hopes will speak about the firm’s potential mixed-use project that could be erected at 9560 Main St., directly across from the high school.

The facility would feature 18,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor and a second floor consisting of 14 two-bedroom apartments. A second building behind that, facing Main Street, will feature townhouse-style apartments to be rented at market rate. Each of these units will have an attached garage.

Currently, the Town of Clarence is in the midst of conducting a study that will guide the future character and economic stability of the town and will assist in ensuring suitable commercial and residential development along the Main Street Corridor. The “Main Street Redevelopment Study,” as it’s called, is sponsored by the Clarence Industrial Development Agency.

A public information and comment session in October featured members of the Clarence IDA, the Main Street Redevelopment Board, the design and planning professionals of Clark Patterson Lee, as well as town officials as they presented information garnered from the study, answered questions and assisted the public in understanding the study and its potential effect on the community.

Brian Kulpa, an architect at Clark Patterson Lee, said at the meeting that the study determined three main focus areas, or “development nodes,” that can be used for the future development and progression of the town: Clarence Hollow, Gunnville Station (at the intersection of Main Street and Sheridan Drive) and Harris Hill.

Of those three nodes, Bleuer says, only the Hollow has a sewer system implemented, which makes it more viable for infill development.

The primary goal in the future, he added, is to develop the Hollow without altering its historic character

“When you look at the Hollow now, there are a lot of teeth missing; there’s a lot of gaps. The goal is to ultimately fill these places in,” he said. “Typical- ly what we try to work towards is that type of mixed-use project, where it’s commercial on the first floor and residential on the second, which will really allow for that pedestrian type of feel where people can live, work and play all in the same place.”

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