Article from Buffalo Business First
By James Fink
On several fronts — some more visible than others — the development team behind the $100 million-plus Elmwood Crossing project continues to move forward.
Elmwood Crossing, a joint effort between Ellicott Development Co. and Sinatra & Co., is the proposed plan to convert the former eight-acre Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo site from an urban medical center into a mixed-use community.
“We’re not sitting back,” said Nick Sinatra, Sinatra & Co. president and founder.
Here is an outline of what is taking shape:
- Construction is expected to begin in October on a five-story building at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Bryant Street. The building will be anchored by 23 apartments.
“Buffalo has always been a ‘show me’ kind of community,” said Michael Hughes, Kaleida Health chief of staff and senior vice president. “Seeing construction underway creates its own sense of confidence.”
- The Buffalo Planning Board, at its Sept. 10 meeting — the first after the board’s August summer recess — will consider accepting a mandated environmental impact statement.
- A community meeting updating residents on the project is tentatively scheduled for mid-September. Nearly 20 informational sessions have been held in the past year.
“All of those helped us change the project for the better,” Sinatra said.
- Applications for brownfield tax credits have been filed with New York state for the Elmwood and Bryant mixed-use building, proposed townhouses on W. Utica Street, and a two-story, mixed-use building, also on W. Utica Street that will be anchored by a grocery store. The store may be anywhere from 25,000-square-feet to 40,000-square-feet./li>
- William Paladino, Ellicott Development president and CEO, said negotiations are underway with four potential supermarket operators, a mix of regional and local grocers.
Talks are also underway with four major hotel brands and more than 50 retailers, both local, regional and national.
- Plans are being tweaked to bring in more green space into the project.
- Negotiations continue with the City of Buffalo to acquire the multi-level parking ramp that sits on the edge of the Elmwood Crossing campus.
- A team of architects, engineers, civil engineers and environmental specialists have been retained and are working on various design aspects related to Elmwood Crossing.
“We are being very diligent,” Paladino said. “Predevelopment work, especially in a project of this scope, is extremely important and can’t be rushed.”
He noted the development team has invested nearly $7 million on consultants and specialists related to the project.
The Ellicott/Sinatra team was named as the designated developers by Kaleida Health in mid-July 2017. The hospital didn’t close until early November when it shifted to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Kaleida needed a few extra months to remove equipment from the building.
“From 10 months between buying the property and getting our first shovel in the ground is an extremely fast pace,” Sinatra said.
Hughes said his organization is very pleased not only with Elmwood Crossing’s progress but also the level of transparency that has gone into the project.
“Admittedly, Ellicott and Sinatra were put in a very difficult position, but it was also a very unique opportunity,” Hughes said.
Plans call for the development of 20 townhomes, 47 condominiums, 240 apartments — with 20 percent, roughly 48 units being designated for low-to-moderate income residents. The affordable units will be spread among several of the Elmwood Crossing buildings.
Also proposed is a hotel, restaurants, retail and an EduKids day care center along Hodge Avenue.
The project has been backed by the Bryant-Oakland-Summer Association Inc., a group of area homeowners.
In all, some 690,000-square-feet of space — much of it renovated from existing Children’s Hospital buildings — will be spread around the Elmwood Crossing campus.
“Knocking down the hospital would have been easier, from a development standpoint,” Sinatra said. “But instead, to be more neighborhood-friendly, we are retrofitting a lot of buildings that have been chopped over time.”
Paladino said he hopes a second wave of construction can begin in the spring with the EduKids day center on Hodge Avenue and the W. Utica townhomes that are being developed in conjunction with Essex Homes of Western New York.
By late spring, work could begin on the mixed-use W. Utica Street building that will house the grocery store and upper level apartments, Paladino said.
Interior renovations inside the main hospital tower could also begin by late winter.
“We’re about a bigger vision for Elmwood,” Sinatra said.
“I think we’ve come with something that is good for the neighborhood and for Buffalo,” Paladino said.