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Revised hotel plan faces further scrutiny

Scaled-back plans for a hotel on Buffalo's Elmwood Strip will face additional review before any action in taken by city planning and zoning officials.

The Buffalo Planning Board Tuesday tabled a proposal from Savarino Construction Services Corp. to construct a $7 million, 72-room hotel at the corner of Elmwood and Forest avenues, at the northern gateway to the Elmwood Strip. The board cited the need for other interested agencies -- including the Buffalo Preservation Board and the state Office of Historic Preservation -- to weigh in on the project.

The planning meeting provided the first public glimpse of a downsized version of the proposed Elmwood Village Hotel. Following a Feb. 21 community forum where a five-story, 80-room rendition of the building was widely criticized for its size, the developer went back to the drawing board to come up with a four-floor version.

Savarino also revamped the proposed facade from an all-brick style to mix of brick with vertical elements of windows and siding to reflect existing neighborhood structures.

While the planning board delayed action on the proposal and did not engage in a full discussion of the project's merits, a few members gave a hint of their views. Member Susan Curran Hoyt said she would like to see it scaled back even further. "It still doesn't seem to hit the definition of a boutique hotel," she said. "Could you make it smaller?"

Member Horace Gioia said while he is in favor of the project, he's worried about how it will impact traffic.

Penhurst Parkway resident Bob Freudenheim, whose home is across the street from the project site, was among those calling on the city to "go slow" in deciding the hotel's fate.

"We have a lot of concerns," he said. "It's still too big. We have concerns about the architecture. We have economic concerns."

Forever Elmwood Executive Director Justin Azzarella told the planning board that while his group supports a 30-day delay on a board vote, it feels the project does meet the community group's urban design goals.

A public hearing on the plan will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Council chambers.


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