Land proposed for Bonaventure Square sold to local bank

By Julia Mericle

After more than 10 years and many different design concepts, St. Bonaventure University no longer owns all of the former Castle Inn site.

Bonaventure recently announced that a 10-acre lot on Route 417 in Allegany, N.Y., former proposed site of Bonaventure Square, is being sold to Community Bank System, Inc.. A new loan operations center will be constructed at the location.

The land has undergone a multitude of plans, most of which have never reached fruition. The property was purchased in increments during the years 2001-2003 by the then-university president, Robert Wickenheiser, for prices ranging from $70,000 to $100,000 per acre. The initial intention was to build student townhouses with the space.

When Wickenheiser left the university in 2003, alternative options were considered and plans to develop a retail center surfaced. These plans were abandoned due to area demographics and lack of community support.

“In the end, they were also not successful in obtaining the required funding for the same reason — the area demographics just do not support such a development,” said Brenda McGee, the university’s senior vice president for finance and administration.

In addition, the national banking crisis of 2008 created another obstacle for project progress.

“The traumatic macroeconomic environment made investment funding much more difficult to achieve,” McGee said.

The original plot of land was 17 acres, but only 10 were sold to Community Bank System, Inc.. The other 7 are still university property and are under discussion.

“We are talking with some interested parties, but nothing is certain at this time,” McGee said.

The amount of money that the university will receive from selling the land is not yet determined, but will be put towards property-related costs, including property taxes and maintenance costs.

The university hopes that the new facility will open up potential internship opportunities for students in the School of Business, said McGee.

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