Contentious eight-year drive to build Asher Crossing residences in Williamsville nears end

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After years of debate and delay, Williamsville’s Asher Crossing project is close to crossing the finish line.

The development of apartments and town houses, at a total cost reaching $35 million, is nearing completion just off Main Street.

This brings to a close an eight-year effort by developer Angelo Natale, who ran into some fierce pushback soon after unveiling plans for the site in 2015.

The fight pit density and traffic concerns against an interest in boosting the village’s population and tax base.

“Residents in that neighborhood were really, I guess, sacrificed for the tax revenue,” said Joe Spino, an early critic of the project who lived nearby on California Drive.

Over the years, Natale, Williamsville officials and residents wrangled over the fate of a neighboring ball diamond and whether the village would build an additional access road into the development.

Natale, frustrated at lengthy delays, saw Covid-19 drive up project costs even further. Two years ago, he asked the Village Board to support an application for tax breaks before putting the request on hold and leaving the fate of the development uncertain.

“We just determined we gotta put our heads down and push through it and get it open and get it occupied,” Bobby Corrao, president of Natale Development, said last week. “And that’s what we did.”

The last of the three apartment buildings, holding 90 total units, should be fully rented this summer, Corrao said. And work on the final town house complex should finish by early next year.

It’s the latest tangible sign of change in the village, where chain restaurants have sprouted up but large-scale development often spurs opposition.

“Williamsville is not that sleepy little village that it used to be,” Williamsville Mayor Deb Rogers said.

Mixed reactions

Natale in 2015 revealed his plans to buy and build on a 5-acre site on California Drive at Milton Street, south of Main and east of Union Road.

The construction contractor Herbert F. Darling Inc. had operated there for more than 75 years before moving to the City of Tonawanda. Neighbors said the contractor produced little day-to-day traffic.

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