The Buffalo Planning Board has signed-off on plans to construct a new mixed-use building at 1020 Elmwood Avenue. Whitesand Family LP’s four-story building would be replace three existing structures on the site and include residential and commercial space. Two other Elmwood Village projects, Schneider Development’s Musical Suites project and Elmwood Crossing’s EduKids proposed facility on Hodge Avenue were tabled.
Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation sold the properties to Whitesand Family LP. Ciminelli had proposed a five-story and later a four-story building for the site as part of its Arbor + Reverie project. Ciminelli decided to sell a majority of its Elmwood properties after facing strong neighborhood opposition.
Whitesand had better luck.
“No one came forward to oppose our Elmwood project at the Planning Board,” says Don White of Whitesand Family LP. “That is quite amazing considering the first few outreach meeting, which I would have to characterize as contentious. I think the neighbors were initially reacting to the Ciminelli project, but soon softened as they found we were going to be transparent and willing to make changes to address their concerns.”
The developer’s approach to outreach is a blueprint for others to follow:
We wanted to have input by the neighbors most directly impacted by the development. For that, we focused initially on the Ashland, Potomac and Claremont Block Club. We held our first meeting with this group on March18, 2019. The meeting was well attended. Based on input from that meeting, our architect Michael Anderson made the first of several plan revisions. We circled back with the Ashland group with revised plans on April 4th and again on July 24th.
On March 26, 2019, we held an outreach meeting at Buffalo Seminary on Chapin Parkway with several Elmwood Avenue Activists who had been the most vocal about the much larger scale project proposed by Ciminelli. This meeting also resulted in revisions to the initial plan.
Jerry Kelly, President of Delaware Park South Neighborhood Association invited us to their regularly scheduled May 1, 2019 meeting. We were invited back to Mr. Kelly’s group on June 26th for a follow-up to allow those that might have been on vacation in May to see and comment on our plan.
A general neighborhood outreach meeting was held at 1006 Elmwood Avenue on June 25th and again on September 10th. Attendees at these meeting were from the neighborhood and had been notified by email, signage in the window of 1006 Elmwood and flyers placed in the doors in and about the neighborhood.
Our architect attended all meeting as did Whitesand principals. At each meeting we publicized an email address specifically for feedback on this project.
There were eight outreach meetings plus the public hearing with the Zoning Board to address the concerns of neighbors as well as a number of private meetings in neighborhood homes. We also reached out to media to give them first-hand information.
Abstract Architecture designed the $6.2 million project. The 38,260 sq.ft. building is to be constructed on three parcels currently occupied by detached residential buildings which will be demolished. The building will include 26 market-rate apartments on floors 2 through 4 (seven one-bedroom & 19 two-bedroom)
Three ground-floor commercial spaces will be provided, combined totaling 3,275 sq.ft. 23 parking spaces will be provided on-site, located behind the commercial spaces with the residential component of the development construction over the parking area. The exterior will consist of brick veneer, terra cotta cladding, and fibre cement rainscreen. The fourth floor is setback from the front and rear facades.
To meet parking demand, an additional six spaces are to be provided on the adjacent Bullfeathers property also owned by Whitesand Family LP. Whitesand is seeking a restaurant to occupy that building. Construction on the project is expected to take one year.