With the 1275 Delaware rehab underway, TM Montante Development is more determined than ever to move its Lancaster Square project towards completion. Chris Campos, company president, told me that the circa-1958 mid-century modern mixed-use building, along with parking ramp in back, are two key components that they must concentrate on initially, before the rest of the campus developments are inked. These two initial facets are scheduled for completion the second quarter of 2021.
Campos, who grew up in the neighborhood, expressed to me why this project is so crucial for the neighborhood. He said that the new Lancaster Avenue extension that runs from Delaware to Linwood will create access that never existed previously.
If you think about it, most of the offshoot streets from Delaware run westward, not eastward. Once the new street is open, there will be greatly improved connectivity, especially for cyclists who will be able to access the dedicated bike lanes on Linwood. Any cyclist taking the Delavan Avenue route is essentially taking a great risk, as there are no bike lanes, which is crazy.
When I asked Campos about the development parcels bounding Canterbury Woods, he told me that everything was still progressing, despite some hiccups. While the 1275 Delaware adaptive reuse project is benefitting from Historic Tax Credits, Campos’s team is sill looking for “financial tools” to move forward with restoring the original Buffalo Homeopathic Hospital rehab…
… as well as to build-out the rest of the campus, including the creation of a six-story mixed-use beauty – 1299 Delaware – at the northeast corner of Delaware Avenue and Lancaster Avenue that will include retail on the ground floor and approximately 60 residential units on the upper floors.
Campos feels that the crux of the Lancaster Square development will be completed within 5 to 7 years, “… but first things first – we have to wrap up renovations to 1275 Delaware and the 750 spot parking ramp that we purchased from the City last year. The parking ramp will be of use to all of the developments eventually, but short-term it will service 1275 Delaware.”
Another goal is to connect the 1275 Delaware project to the larger site – back in the day Millard Fillmore Hospital was around a 1 million square foot campus. “There’s a lot to work with,” Campos imparted. “We entered into a partnership on the historic hospital site with Rochester developer Robert C Morgan – we are now looking to reacquire those interests.”
“When the hospital left, this place was deserted,” Campos explained. “I grew up in this neighborhood. We’re breathing life into this spot, which is great for the neighborhood. We’ve hit a few bumps, but the completion of the 1275 Delaware project and the parking ramp will jumpstart the rest of the project, which people really want to see happen. When the apartments are finished they are going to be fantastic – we are staying faithful to the mid-century architecture.”
The key to the project is to create dynamic infill that will inspire more people to want to live, work, and shop on the campus. These amenities will not only be for the residents, they will be open to everyone. The mixed use nature of the site would not only function nicely, the infill buildings would be incredible additions to Delaware Avenue, including the proposed 1285 Delaware office building (see below), and the aforementioned 1299 Delaware building.
Early on, Montante sold off a parcel to Canterbury Woods (on Gates Circle), and another parcel at the corner of Lafayette and Linwood to People Inc. At the same time, the company strategically retained 40 and 50 Gates along Delavan Avenue. Campos mentioned that they have been picking and choosing their battles, with the goal of creating a vibrant and desirable new neighborhood that accentuates an Olmsted Parkway.
“In the meantime, we’re showing people the grand vision for the Lancaster Square project, in hopes of attracting additional tenants to the project. So far, that seems to be working.”
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