In a stunner, Kaleida Health has named Ellicott Development and Sinatra & Company Real Estate “designated developers” for the Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo campus.
The Kaleida Health board of directors announced the designation following their most recent meeting. The team takes over for Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation, who was given the designation last June. The property includes seven interconnected buildings between Bryant Street and Hodge Avenue. Also included are several properties on West Utica Street. The total development site is 7.89 acres.
“Unfortunately we could not come to terms with Ciminelli and their development team,” said Michael P. Hughes, spokesman for Kaleida Health. “It became clear that, in the best interests of the community – as well as the Elmwood Village neighborhood – that a change was necessary. Fortunately, we had four outstanding proposals from last year’s reuse process. And we are moving forward with the next in line.”
Ciminelli Real Estate’s development team included LP Ciminelli, M/E Engineering & Canon Design. The $122 million “Queenslight” project included a mix of residential, hotel, retail, educational, and recreational space in a mix of redeveloped and new buildings.
Plans called for 249 units of residential in the existing Variety Tower, new townhouses fronting the tower along Bryant Street, and in new construction along Hodge, and at the corner of Elmwood and Bryant.
Also proposed was Tapestry Charter School taking space in the Alfiero building along Bryant Street and at the base of Variety Tower. Along Bryant, a boutique hotel with approximately 72 rooms in the three-story, circa-1917-27 Annex building was envisioned.
An EduKids child care center along Hodge was proposed and a soccer park and wellness center on W. Utica Street that included an indoor soccer field, 374 new underground parking spaces, and public plazas and green connectors to tie the uses together.
“We were extremely disappointed to read today in the Buffalo News, without having previously received any official notice, that Kaleida has decided to pursue other options for the redevelopment of the Women and Children’s Hospital site,” said Anne Duggan, Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation assistant vice president. “Negotiations on the contract had been ongoing, during which time we had been working diligently together- and we thought in good faith – to resolve numerous complex issues that are customary in a project of this size and scope.”
Ciminelli officials say the company did execute the contract prepared by Kaleida’s attorneys, contrary to published reports and Kaleida’s statement.
“Relying on Kaleida’s good faith, we made a significant investment in this project, including active engagement with architects, engineers and other consultants, in preparation for closing and quick commencement of our redevelopment of the project,” said Duggan. “Notwithstanding what Kaleida told the Buffalo News, our project has not changed dramatically since we first proposed it. There were iterations involving the improvement of traffic flow, adding residential units, and creating neighborhood friendly retail, and those were all made based on excellent feedback received from Kaleida’s Project Advisory Committee. We signed the contract as proposed and drafted by Kaleida’s attorneys, a contract that reflects a project in accordance with our response to the request for proposals. Kaleida, however, refused to sign its own contract and, instead, elected to negotiate with other developers without our knowledge.”
Duggan continued, “Given our company’s longstanding relationship with the Kaleida system, we are disappointed with, and surprised by, this decision to terminate our development agreement.”
Ellicott Development originally proposed “The Elmwood Center,” a multi-phase project highlighted by market rate housing, senior housing, a hotel, educational facilities, office space, a performance art center and grocery store (above).
Sinatra & Company Real Estate’s multi-phase proposal included market rate housing (including town homes, apartments and condominiums), adaptive reuse of space for education, office and retail, plus a Dash’s grocery store on the Casa di Pizza site along Elmwood.
The two companies plan to collaborate and develop the Bryant Street campus together. They have a proven history of successful joint development projects, teaming up for $40 million in work to date. Their revised, combined plans will be released at a later date, pending community outreach and stakeholder meetings in the coming weeks.
The team plans to commence project work on the Utica Street parcels, working with Essex Homes of WNY. The remaining parcels will undergo close examination for subsequent phasing of the final intended reuse.
“Nick and I appreciate the opportunity Kaleida has provided us with and we look forward to working with Kaleida, the neighborhood committee along with our City and State leaders,” said Ellicott Development CEO William Paladino. “We are not beholden to either of our submittals as originally proposed and look forward to having an open dialogue with all participants in the discussions to date, and learning more about what those discussions have been and how we can integrate our thoughts and plans into those discussions.”
The project fundamentals according to project officials include:
- A phased approach to the site’s redevelopment
- An integrated reuse that is primarily residential in nature, including market-rate rental and owned residences of varying types, including apartments, townhomes and condominiums
- Design standards that are reflective of the existing neighborhood fabric, along with an attention to the City of Buffalo’s Green Code
- Commitment to appropriate retention of viable structures
- Interconnectivity amongst the site and the existing neighborhood