AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — Malls are dying across America, and here locally our retail giants have not been spared either.
After a recent assessment, the Town of Amherst valued the Boulevard mall at roughly $13.5 – a 59-percent cut.
“It’s really the story of a mall going through its last breath,” said town supervisor Brian Kulpa. “If you grew up with the Boulevard Mall like I did, it’s tough to watch it sit empty.”
Kulpa said town officials have been preparing for what he calls the “death of the Boulevard Mall,” and this recent assessment shows that time is now here.
This all comes after well-known local developer and the site’s property owner Douglas Jemal challenged the value. Despite this drastic cut, though, Kulpa said taxpayers will not be impacted.
“It’s still a really low percentage off what the overall Amherst assessment evaluation is,” he said. “It’s not like it hurts us – it’s not going to use us tax-wise next year or anything. The tax rate is not going to go up because of it.”
There are now big plans for the site’s future. In the mall’s place will be a mixed-use site that Kulpa said will look like a downtown district. He said Jemal expects this development to take a decade to complete.
“The Boulevard Mall as we know it won’t exist,” he said. “[It will have] five to eight stories of residential or retail and complete streets – the type of development you’d see in an urban campus near any university.”
Down the road, Hamburg town supervisor Jim Shaw said the McKinley Mall is also struggling to stay afloat.
Because of this, the town is also exploring new ways to bring more people to the mall. This includes turning the site into an “incentive zone,” which allows developers to present any plans that they think will generate money.
“What that does is it makes the mall more valuable because you’re not limited to commercial development, big box retail stores. You can develop mixed use shops and residences, you can do restaurants and theaters,” Shaw said. “If we are fortunate, the mall properties will be redeveloped and reimagined.”
Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.