Go back about 20 years to Lake Avenue in Blasdell between South Park Avenue and McKinley Parkway and you will find an area that was constantly busy with shoppers with the likes of Hills Department Store and the grocery store, Jubilee.
By the late 1990s, Hills became Ames and eventually closed its doors.
In the fall of 2012, Jubilee closed as well, leaving Wegmans across from the McKinley Mall as the closest grocery store for those who live directly in the Village of Blasdell.
The plaza that formerly held Hills has been on life support for several years, and although there is still some businesses in there, it almost feels like a ghost town pulling in, as you still see the name Hills faded upon the sign with half of the building remaining vacant (the other half is Mr. 2nd’s Bargain Outlet.
It is a shame as Lake Avenue is a cut through road for those traveling from Route 5 through Blasdell to Orchard Park.
As Mayor Michael Petrie offered his State of the Village of Blasdell speech at Ilio DiPaolo’s restaurant on Monday (April 22), it became crystal clear that this one time center of activity will soon be a hub in the village once again. Plans for both properties were not only discussed, but they are in the works.
Jeff Russo of Pine Hill Fresh Foods discussed a new venture that will be housed in the former Jubilee, while Gordon Reger of Reger Holdings, LLC, owner of the former Hills Plaza, talked about the future of that plaza, which is expected to include a new grocery store, as Reger noted that a deal with a discount grocery store is almost complete.
These two developments are great news for the Village of Blasdell, as a pair of prime real estate locations will soon be full of activity once again.
In a time when building new plaza’s is a norm, it is great to see new use out of existing facilities that are in good locations.
This certainly is great news for the residents of the Village of Blasdell.
With I-90 as its backdrop, the plaza was a destination for many years. The faded Hills sign still stands as a symbol that the plaza was once successful, and with the right planning, can be again.
Russo, who said he has been traveling past the former Jubilee since he was 13-years-old, is excited about building a new state-of-the-art facility inside of the former grocery store. When it is complete, Pine Hill Fresh Foods will have between 75 and 100 employees and Russo is optimistic that the company can double its production within three to five years as it has outgrown its current facility on California Road in Orchard Park. Russo expects the facility to be operational by either October or November.
We would like to wish Russo and Reger the best of luck with their new ventures and for their efforts in bringing that section of Lake Avenue back to life.
• To quote New York Yankees Hall-of-Famer Yogi Berra, “It’s like deja vu all over again.”
On Monday, April 22, petitions for those interested in running for school boards had to be filed with district clerks and for the Hamburg School Board, three seats are up for the second straight year, with seven candidates looking to fill those three seats. It is great to see the amount of interested in running for school board seats. We give them a lot of credit for having the interest and deciding to run.
However, we are hopeful that the one part that does not repeat itself this year in Hamburg on election night is a voting machine not working, causing the eight candidates to have to wait until around noon the next day to find out the results.
The only district that will not have school board candidates is Frontier, whose voters approved a measure a year ago to reduce from nine to seven members, with Nancy Woods and Jeremy Rosen’s seats being eliminated starting July 1.