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Big Deal: Sinatra and Ellicott Buy Children’s Hospital Properties

Ellicott Development and Sinatra & Company Real Estate have purchased the just-vacated Women and Children’s Hospital campus. Their Elmwood Crossing LLC paid $1 million for the properties at 187 Bryant, 219 Bryant, 125 Hodge and 188 W. Utica.  The total development site is 7.89 acres.

The Kaleida Health board of directors decided to sell the properties to the developers in July. The team took over for Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation, who was given the designation in June 2016.

Ellicott and Sinatra are refining their redevelopment plan for the site and met with the Reuse Advisory Committee last week. Plans call for apartments, townhouses, condominiums, retail space, a hotel, charter school and a grocery store along W. Utica Street. A concept plan is expected to be unveiled in a month or so according to Nick Sinatra.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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  • Gray McDowell

    Their plans will face a lot of opposition. The murmurs are already being heard.

    • jonny99

      Well, some of the buildings are already over 3 stories, there is already surface and ramp parking and no real demo is planned so I am not sure how much is objectionable, with all of that said I am sure they will find things they do not like. Most likely they will not be happy that up to 200 residential units are coming on line.

  • Everything is Great

    The lawn signs on Lancaster are already starting to pop up.

  • Dave

    I really liked the earlier concept by the first group (can’t remember name), with the layered double level soccer field; with one field sort of 3/4 underground for bad weather and one on top of it slightly elevated. Seemed like it kept things fairly light, simple, with moderate development and a good portion of this green space to play soccer (or whatever sport) on.

    • Johnny Pizza

      The neighbors hated the soccer field because they said it would create too much noise, apparently more than ambulances do.

      • jonny99

        And helicopters

      • eagercolin

        What if somebody gets hurt while playing soccer? Soccer noise *and* ambulance noise. Too risky!

        • grovercleveland

          Make sure the soccer field is built to the curb

      • Hugh Jarvis

        The soccer field was weird. It was going to be private, solely for the use of a school that is blocks away. That’s why many people thought it was a bad idea.

        • Johnny Pizza

          The soccer field was going to be used by Delaware Soccer Club which is open to all and is not affiliated with a school. That is unless something in the plan changed after the initial presentations were given, which I attended. I believe they even had the Delaware Soccer Club logo in the renderings.

          • Hugh Jarvis

            Interesting. That’s not what we heard, but the presentation was very badly done. They were also talking about some sort of arts building or center that would be used by a school that was blocks away, then they mentioned the soccer field in the same breath. But either way, dedicating all that green space to one organization is really sad. We really need more common land, for open air activities, even dog walking would be better than a dedicated playing field in my opinion.

          • FreedomCM

            and of course, ‘those people’ might come from a school that is ‘blocks away’!

  • Dave

    Also, can someone tell me what this part of Elmwood is like nowadays? I haven’t lived in the area in many years, but recall this stretch to be a bit run down; is this part of the reason for the demand to rebuild? (And will some buildings be re-used, or are they going for a full demolition?). My apologies for not being up to date on this project/saga….

    • My Zhitnik Don’t Smehlik

      I lived at Ashland/Hodge from ’98 to ’02. Louie’s (home of the triple-bacon cheeseburger) had a fire, didn’t reopen, and was replaced by a restaurant that specializes in salads. Friggin’ nanny state.

      • Mr. B

        “Friggin’ nanny state.”

        LOL — is somebody forcing you to eat salads?

        .

    • breckenridge

      Bryant to West Utica on Elmwood has seen better days. The old staples from 10-15 years ago that anchored this strip – Casa di Pizza, Ambrosia, Louies, Nektar are all gone. Europa migrated to Connecticut St. as Black Sheep. Faherty’s and Toro were replaced by Thin Man Brewery which seems to be one of the bright spots on this stretch.

      • BuffaloGals

        Thin Man has great beer and is a cool space, but man was I disappointed with their food. I hope they improve in that regard.

  • mediumriser

    I can hear the cry babbies now Waa!!! Waa!!

    • eagercolin

      Mildly ironic.

  • Bludog

    I know it doesnt create revenue, but please tell me there will be green space, a park for kids, basketball courts, soccer, tennis or something that the neighborhood desperately needs….I know a charter school is in the works and would love if Elmwood Village Charter school was in the conversation for middle school or high school….

  • grovercleveland

    Good luck Nick.

    You will need it with the entitled brats that live in this area.

    • Craig

      Sinatra’s Fenton projects have an excellent track record of successful redevelopment that’s sensitive to the neighborhood it’s located in. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish when you have an open dialog with the people who have to live with the result. In many cases the end result is better for both parties.

      • Johnny Pizza

        And in some cases we end up with the Chason Affinity project that looks worse and doesn’t add as much to the density that the Elmwood Village is very clearly ready for.

        • Craig

          I’d argue that their project proves my point. The initial proposal did little to involve the community in the first place and the result has been a lot of pushback. The developer has invested too much in the design to be flexible enough to deliver something coherent. Sinatry didn’t demolish the Fenton, and they didn’t demolish the former liquor store on Main near Ferry. They should be particularly proud of what they’ve accomplished with the former liquor store.

          I’d argue that people want to live in the Elmwood Village because of the existing character of the neighborhood. The Chason Affinity project is.. not that. It detracts from the character that entices people to want to live in the neighborhood to begin with. You’ve got two recent projects to draw conclusions from in that respect – Elmwood near Auburn and Elmwood at Delevan. Too much of this kind of development will change the character of the neighborhood, and IMHO for the worse.

          There are plenty of other sites in the city where large-scale development would be welcomed, appropriate, and would enhance the surrounding area and the city as a whole. 201 Ellicott comes to mind, across from the Lafayette Hotel next to the bus terminal. The Delaware-North building on Delaware at Chippewah as well.

          • Johnny Pizza

            We’ll have to agree to disagree then.

          • greenca

            There are also a lot of people in the EV who support the Chason Affinity project, even though they aren’t represented by a self-appointed community activist and they never ordered lawn signs. The buildings being replaced have long been dumps.

          • Craig

            I see plenty of lawn signs in support of the project. You should also not assume what I do and do not support. I would support replacing the existing buildings with something appropriate. I don’t support replacing the existing buildings with what’s been proposed. I don’t support developers trying to wring every last nickel out of a desirable location by cramming as many apartments as possible into the space.

            Ultimately I see this as a missed opportunity. There are plenty of more appropriate places to locate new construction at that proposed scale that would benefit from the investment.

          • Johnny Pizza

            That’s the laws of supply and demand. If the East Side demand for high end housing was extremely high, projects like this would be proposed there. But it isn’t. Demand for high end housing is focused on EV and Hertel to a certain degree. Fighting against going vertical is what causes sprawl, which is anti-urban.

            As it relates to being “appropriate”, what determines what is “appropriate”? Do you mean it should be like what is around it? If that’s your take on appropriate then I’d ask – how do you think high rise buildings were ever built anywhere? At one point Buffalo didn’t have high rise buildings lining the sky. Does that mean putting up the first high rise was inappropriate? Nope. Cities are dynamic, they grow and decline. They change and grow up. Having property in EV that goes from 2.5 to 4 or 5 story is just the next step on that ladder. You cannot make financial sense by demolishing a 2.5 story structure and replacing it with a 2.5 story structure. The only way to grow is up. Cities going vertical is actually one of the best things that can happen to it. When going vertical is the best option for a city it means the value of the land of that city has increased to a point that demolishing the old and growing vertically is viable. Again that is a good thing for a city. Stagnation and loss like we experienced for 50 years prior to resurgence is why values, wages and prospects of this city were abysmal.

            In short, let the city grow up. It is a good thing.

          • Jim

            speak brother! You are one of the few people that gets it.

          • Craig

            It’s a matter of contributing to, or extracting from, the equity of the neighborhood in which you’re developing. People thought it was nuts to redevelop Elk Terminal, but it helped to jumpstart a number of redevelopment projects east of Main in downtown – Fairmont, Warehouse Lofts, Hotel @ Lafayette.

            It’s not the neighborhood’s job to make a developer’s business model work, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask that development in a mature neighborhood be appropriate to that neighborhood.

          • Johnny Pizza

            I knew this wouldn’t go anywhere. Have a good one Craig.

          • jonny99

            But Elmwood at one time was mostly a residential street, storefronts were added to houses and single family houses converted to doubles and triples, this was big change in the character to the neighborhood at the time, houses knocked down to build Rite-Aid, 7-11, gas stations. Now better and higher use development is being proposed like a 5 story apartment building with restaurant and retail in the place of a gas station, a three story build in place of a KFC, and another in place of a surface lot. A row of shotty houses, setback from the street with driveways is going away for dense built to the curb multi use that will bring 40 new tax paying homeowners. Could the design be better in all of these, probably, but this is positive and responsible development. To deny in the name of cutesy nostalgia is is irresponsible and negligent.

  • TV62

    That monstrosity shouldn’t be in a residential neighborhood. Now that the hospital is closed, why not level it and build houses?

    • LongGoneeee

      Thank you for perfectly summing up the small town mindset that plagues residents in the ‘city’ of Buffalo.

      • BuffaloFenian

        Beat me to the punch. I just put my head down when I read that comment. Heartbreaking that people really have that opinion. It’s going to haunt us and frustrate progress for decades.

        • TV62

          So level all residential areas of a city to put up high-rises and buildings?

          • FreedomCM

            I propose we level all of the houses in the Elmwood Village area, and restore the farms that were once there!

          • TV62

            Private farms, or kolkhozes? I’m neither an economist nor an urban planner, but I don’t think either option would be good. Not to mention displacing the current residents whose houses would be leveled.

          • jonny99

            Sure, if the demand is there then build up, Manhattan, Chicago, Boston, Miami and every other major city in the world is an example.

    • lexwood

      Because this will create a critical mass and contribute to a vibrant, upscale neighborhood. This is a city, if you want a “neighborhood” with just houses move to the suburbs.

    • BeatHarvard

      You’re such a small-timer it’s pathetic

      • TV62

        Thanks for engaging in open-minded, constructive discussion. You seem very angry. I thought it would be OK for a city to have neighborhoods. A suggestion. Like in New York or Montreal. Sorry for angering you. Good thing this is only online. I’d be afraid you’d punch me, if we were in person.

    • Mr. B

      “That monstrosity shouldn’t be in a residential neighborhood. Now that the hospital is closed, why not level it and build houses?”

      Yeah — let’s do that to Kleinhans Music Hall, too. That “monstrosity” shouldn’t be in a residential neighborhood, either . . .

      .

    • armyof100clowns

      As a neighbor of this “monstrosity” and a homeowner on Bryant, I do not want to see the complex razed in favor of houses or green space. A healthy city should evolve and grow. I want people living here. I believe in density and urbanity. If people want a village, East Aurora is a beautiful place . . .

    • Terrier1

      The corners of Delaware and Bryant includet the Campanile (at least 10 stories high), The Bryant (5 stories high) the condos at 900 Delaware (again 5 stories) and another 4-5 story apartment building. Two of the high rises are rentals – one is a co-op and one is a condo. The hospital can fit in just fine with residential space near the other end of the block.

  • lexwood

    LOVE that Sinatra’s original idea of a Dashes market seem to be resurrected!

  • Michael DiPasquale

    Not sure why people don’t understand that residents living in one of the city’s nicest neighborhoods might want to have a say in any new development at the hospital site. Are they really “entitled brats”. Wouldn’t most people feel this way?

    • LongGoneeee

      As long as the project is built to current standards in the green code, the residents should not have any say at all. Thinking that they have a right here is why they are, in fact, entitled brats.

      Most logical people who live in a ‘city’ off THE busiest corridor for commerce would anticipate redevelopment here to the same scale of what has existed.

      • Craig

        So do you really feel that the city (in effect, the people) should have no say over urban planning or development? It’s totally OK for development to move forward in any haphazard way, because capitalism? Really?

        • grovercleveland

          There are zoning laws that dictate what can and cannot be done, there is a planning board as well.

          What I am referring to is a well earned reputation of being spoiled brats by throwing temper tantrums when anything is proposed that certain people don’t like. those temper tantrums include an inordinate amount of public meetings, lawsuits and appeals that drastically slow down projects.

        • armyof100clowns

          That was neither stated or implied. Democracy does not mean free-for-all. Order is maintained thorough legislation crafted by representatives voted into power “by the people”. If you don’t like a development, even if it is adhering to the law and code, you need to petition to have the law or code changed. There should be no reasonable expectation your every whim and want will be catered to simply because of “democracy”.

        • LongGoneeee

          I didn’t bring in the capitalism argument.

          But to your question, residents in a city have an opportunity to ‘have their say’ when code is created. They have an opportunity to ‘have their say’ by speaking up when appointments are being made to the various committees that weight in on the process.

          Outside of that, it’s completely unacceptable to a reasonable person that a neighbor should be able to weigh in on a project that they have no ownership stake in because they have decided said project is of interest to them. That’s outright chaos.

          NIMBYs may call the development plan haphazard but that’s because they have no skin in the game and they are stupid. Developers don’t put this much money into a project and chart a haphazard course. It’s a very detailed course actually. A purposeful course.

          Just because you don’t agree with the outcome or trajectory does not mean you can call it haphazard. If you want a say, put some of your own money in the game or move to a location where you don’t have neighbors.

      • Hugh Jarvis

        Troll go home!

        • armyof100clowns

          Please tell me how LongGoneeee Ian a troll? He offered a more articulate contribution than you did and did so without calling other posters on this board names.

      • 300miles

        That’s not entirely correct though, because the green code requires public meetings set aside to get neighborhood input for certain projects. So when you say all they need to do is meet current standards of the code, that also includes public input. It is not some misplaced sense of entitlement… it’s required by code (for certain types of projects).

        Now if the project doesn’t have any demolitions, and if they don’t require any variances, then I think it reduces the need for public meetings. But I’m not entirely sure where that threshold is.

      • Terrier1

        I’m a neighbor who has lived in the EV for over 35 years and bought my own piece of heaven eight years ago – when the recession was in full bloom. Many Summer/Oakland/Bryant homeowners have been here for generations. It’s an upscale neighborhood with a great mix of private homes, condos, co-ops and rentals. Creating a project that will lower the property value of the area (ex.: a detox/mental health center) will just drive the residents away. People who have set down roots here are both financially and emotionally invested in the community. Forcing them to move by degrading the neighborhood won’t benefit the EV (or the city) in the long run. I invested in the city when many of my friends chose to move to the suburbs. My investment has paid off. Why shouldn’t I have the right to protect my hard earned money???

    • Johnny Pizza

      Because in capitalism not everyone gets a voice in what you do with your private property. It is literally as simple as that. And before you begin to get into zoning and building codes, I get that. But if someone abides by the code or seeks the proper variances and is approved by the planning board then that’s it. There is no “voice of the people” in capitalism. It would seem capitalism has worked pretty well for us for the past two centuries, I don’t know why you would want to bastardize that for a bunch of upper-middle class white folks who think they’re entitled to living in a stagnant neighborhood from the moment they bought their house.

      • Hugh Jarvis

        “Johnny”, that’s just silly. Capitalism is perfectly compatible with democracy. People actually set the gauge for pricing and whether a product is even viable. And any wise business always does market research before developing their products. Lighten up.

        • Johnny Pizza

          I never claimed democracy and capitalism were incompatible. But in every situation where the two institutions meet, there is some entity, person or group that makes a final decision. That’s the planning or zoning board. It would be impossible to satisfy everyone in any given project so that entity, person or group has to make a reasonable decision based on the facts.

          • Kevin Ryan

            what wrong with you??

          • Hugh Jarvis

            No offence, but there are lots of holes in your reasoning. “voice of the people” is literally democracy… so yes, you did actually say capitalism was incompatible with democracy. But let’s put that aside.

            I suspect you’re really saying that corporate decisions (not “capitalism”) are often made for business reasons and do not always follow popular preferences. Am I warm..? But we live in an enlightened society (witness the Green Code) and many of us really care what people want, including business owners (witness Sinatra).

            No one has demanded that “everyone” be happy. Instead many of us around Buffalo are insisting that people who are directly impacted by these decisions be actively consulted. And the end result is that people are much happier with the final decisions, and the final decisions are beginning to make much more sense.

          • Johnny Pizza

            “”voice of the people” is literally democracy” – tell that to last year’s popular vote

            What I’m referring to is that allowing all the little individual voices to be heard and to have an impact on a project is impractical. Just like it would be if we all as democratic voters had a voice in crafting legislation. It couldn’t be administered in any effective or efficient way. It would be a screaming match. So we elect people to be our voice. Some of those elected people appoint officials to make decisions (like the Planning Board) based on the opinions of all as it relates to real estate development in the city.

            What I find here on the BRO message boards is that some individuals (like M DiPisquale above) seems to suggest that there is some other voice of the people that needs to be heard, on top of the already existing building codes and the rulings of the planning and zoning boards. That is where I disagree. If someone goes through the proper legal channels and has a project is approved, that is it. None of this “I live across the street and me and all my neighbors don’t like the color of brick you selected or the height of the building you had approved so change it”.

          • Hugh Jarvis

            From what I have seen, inviting people to comment at public meetings occurs regularly, is very productive, and is actually required in the planning approval process. I’ve been to quite a few.

            Not everyone gets exactly what they want, but the developers and approvers get a good sense of whether the community is in favor of the plans, and often the plans get revised, and often in my opinion they get improved by the process.

          • grovercleveland

            and in this particular part of the city, when not everyone gets what they want, they throw temper tantrums and file law suits.

      • Flyguy2pt0

        I totally agree provided code provisions are met and land is properly zoned such projects ought to be administratively reviewed only. Unfortunately in Buffalo and perhaps others in WNY it appears that anything hitting the “major site plan” threshold forces public hearing. Perhaps I have misread and can be corrected but its things like forcing public hearings on major site plans that introduce politics and reaction based firestorm opinions about everything and anything, tying up the process and adding a huge burden of cost, time, risk to the property owner or developer. It puts the City at a competitive disadvantage with other regions of the Country where major site plans do not warrant public hearings, they are administratively reviewed solely to ensure codes are met. Unless some variance or rezoning is being pursued I do not believe public hearings should be warranted for major site plans. I dont care if its a million square foot warehouse as long as properly zoned and meets code.

      • OldFirstWard
    • eagercolin

      Why should the “niceness” of a neighborhood have anything to do with whether residents should have a say over its future?

      • grovercleveland

        How about it Michael DiPasquale?

  • Hugh Jarvis

    That’s excellent news. Sinatra actually listens to people and we will actually get a decent result. Ciminelli on the other hand couldn’t care less what the neighborhood or even the city wants. They’re only about profit.

    • Johnny Pizza

      LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

      Sinatra’s primary financial backing is one of the wealthiest families in the country. You ever hear of the Prtizker family dynasty? They’re worth more than every developer in Western New York combined, maybe excluding Benderson, estimated at $29 billion in 2015.

      I can assure you they got that way by being ruthless profiteers.

  • Jonnno

    If this project depends on getting historic tax credits it might not happen. I understand that historic tax credits are not included in the tax overhaul being considered by Congress. Assuming that it passes.