BUFFALO, NY - Gates Circle is a prominent location in the city, and it continues to undergo a transformation
Plans to save some historic structures there, however, while not entirely derailed, have hit a bit of a snag leaving a developer seeking alternative sources of funding to complete the project as envisioned.
It's been two years since the old Millard Fillmore Hospital at Gates Circle was imploded, clearing the way for $150 million of new development.
The first component to be completed was Canterbury Woods, a $43 million senior apartment building built by the Episcopal Church Home and Affiliates, which was formally dedicated last week.
Now, TM Montante Development continues to push forward with the rest of the site.
The foundation of where Lancaster Avenue will be extended from Delaware Avenue to Linwood Avenue is now in place, around which a mix of stores, offices, and apartments will rise in the form of “Lancaster Place”.
In essence, the area near Gates Circle will, over the next 5-7 years, give rise to an entirely new neighborhood for which Montante worked closely with surrounding residents to capture a vision satisfactory to all.
The first structure to go up will be 1299 Delaware, a six story building adjacent to Canterbury Woods, according to TM Montante President Christian Campos.
"We're looking to start construction as soon as possible and we imagine that will be in the next couple of months," Campos told WGRZ-TV, noting that the structure has already passed muster with the city planning board.
Not all of the hospital complex was demolished with the implosion which felled the main building in October 2015.
Several buildings on the east end of the property were preserved for an anticipated adaptive re-use.
They include the more than century old former homeopathic hospital which was among the first buildings erected on the site.
Regarding the historic structures, Campos told 2 on Your Side, " obviously in order for us to move forward on that project we need to have a viable financial strategy."
However, the initial strategy largely surrounded the securing of historic tax credits.
And Montante wasn’t able to secure them.
“The story, is that all of the building were added on to one another over time," Campos explained.
The National Parks Service, essential in the granting of historic tax credits, therefore felt that this made them all part of the building which was demolished.
"So essentially, by tearing down some of the structures, what we did was disqualify ourselves from qualifying for historic tax credits per the regulations," Campos said.
Undaunted, Campos said Montante remains determined to find a way to save the buildings, and that tearing them down is not in the plans.
“We still have the goal of rehabbing those structures,” said Campos. “Perhaps there are some additional financing sources which will allow us to fill the gap…because we think the adaptive reuse of those buildings would be great.”
It’s also something the company promised surrounding neighbors and city officials in order to sell them on their plan.
“The neighbors want them saved, and we want them saved, and if historic tax credits are not available to us, we're going to look for other opportunities to be able to fill that financing gap,” said Campos.
Montante has a string of success stories throughout the city, and Campos will the first to tell you that in the development game--especially in big projects like this-- you'd be hard pressed to find any of them where everything went from “A-to-Z” just as planned.
He also believes if there's a will, there's a way…and that includes a way to save these structures.
“We’re committed to saving those structures and we're going to do everything we can to save them," Campos said.
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