americanlockerBy Jann Wiswall

It’s been in the works for several years, but in August, HoliMont member Wayne Bacon and two silent partners purchased the 2.8-acre site at 12-16 Martha St. in the Village of Ellicottville from American Locker.

The site, which is bounded by Rockwell Avenue to the south, Great Valley Creek to the west and an abandoned rail spur to the east, has been vacant in the years since American Locker moved its Ellicottville operations to Texas.

“We’re very excited to have acquired this property,” said Bacon, who owns a townhouse at HoliMont and has been visiting Ellicottville from his home in Buffalo for many years.

“The property is ideally situated in proximity to everything the village has to offer. We think people will love being in walking distance to the new Ellicottville Brewing Company and all of the other restaurants, shops and nightlife,” he said.

The partners, who have formed 16 Martha Street, LLC, plan to renovate the two existing buildings on the property. One will feature 10 apartments. The other will be turned into four, two-story apartments. The intent is to rent the units during the ski season and offer them for off-season rental, as well.

“We’re in the very preliminary planning stages at this point,” said Bacon. “We’re still interviewing architects, so the specifics of the renovations are down the road.” However, he said, “you won’t recognize the buildings when we’re done.”

Extensive exterior redesign is planned, and once the 500-foot creek side of the property is cleaned up and landscaped, the site will have great views of the ski slopes.

The first step for the partners is remediation of the retaining wall along the creek. They’ve already discussed options with Village Engineer Mike Smith and expect to begin that work as soon as next month.

“If the stars align,” said Bacon, “we hope to begin construction on the buildings next spring and have them available by the 2014-15 ski season.”

Assuming this first phase of the project is successful, the partners may add additional apartment buildings to the property in coming years.

“We see this as a long-term project, but we want to test the market with the first phase,” said Bacon.