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Cost estimates soar for Gates Circle project

The cost of turning the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital into a mixed-use community has ballooned to more than $150 million. The conversion originally was pegged at $63 million.

The higher costs are attributed to greater site preparation expenses and up to five additional projects that would be included later.

The original estimate factored in only the first major mixed-use complex and the planned senior housing facility by partner Canterbury Woods, along with the initial cleanup and site-clearing costs, TM Montante spokesman Byron DeLuke said Tuesday morning following a city Planning Board meeting.

The costs now include $35 million for the 53-unit, six-story structure that Canterbury Woods will construct, plus more than $40 million for a separate building for a proposed YMCA, a grocery store, commercial office space and residential apartments, DeLuke said.

Additionally, the site prep costs increased to $16 million.

In all, that’s $91 million just for those components – 44 percent higher than originally projected.

But on top of that, the developer plans up to five more buildings on the 6.8-acre site, with more residential and commercial space.

When completed, 470 units of condos and apartments will be built, plus the YMCA, grocer and commercial space. Streets also will be reconstructed.

The new estimate indicates a transformation of the sprawling Delaware Avenue site back to a productive use that fits in with the surrounding neighborhoods. It also shows the degree of ambition by TM Montante Development, which has never before undertaken a project of this size.

“This is really community development,” DeLuke said. “It’s a significant investment that’s going to bring a large amount of construction jobs and permanent jobs to that part of the region. It’s going to have a community-wide impact, and we’re very excited abut it.”

TM Montante was paid $1 to take over the closed medical complex at 3 Gates Circle from Kaleida Health. The new project will be anchored by Episcopal Church Home & Affiliates’ Canterbury Woods continuing-care senior project, which will face Gates Circle, and the mixed-use “signature building” along Delaware Avenue. Additional residential and commercial space, including more retail storefronts, would be spread among the other five buildings on the campus itself, as well as secondary development along the nearby streets.

Details of the plans have evolved along the way, and some site reconfiguration was necessary after the developer abandoned plans to buy an additional site at 1275 Delaware. But the overall concept remains consistent, DeLuke said. No decision has been made on a grocer, but officials have been talking with three to four potential companies, he said.

“There’s been a ton of work on the team with our partners at Canterbury and the community,” DeLuke said.

The entire project has been undergoing a mandatory environmental review, subject to the Planning Board’s approval after a June 16 public hearing, but so far, no site plans for individual buildings have been submitted for review. That process likely will begin in late August, with submission of a plan for Canterbury Woods, followed separately by each of the other buildings, said attorney Marc Romanowski, who is representing the developer.

Meanwhile, demolition of the power plant building at the main hospital and the five-story Medical Services Building behind it is already underway. And DeLuke confirmed that the developer will “most likely” seek to demolish the 10-story main hospital building in late summer through a single controlled implosion.

Plans call for breaking ground on Canterbury in January 2016, with completion slated for mid-2017. Montante’s main building will start in early to mid-2016, with completion targeted for late 2017. That will be followed by the additional redevelopment on the campus and along Lancaster Avenue, as the developer seeks to “create a Main Street element” with “diversity of uses” and “vibrant public space.”

“A lot of that additional development is early in the stages for design,” DeLuke said.

email: jepstein@buffnews.com