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Neighbors oppose blanket rezoning at Gates Circle

A block club opposes TM Montante Development’s request to rezone the former Millard Fillmore Hospital property on Gates Circle to a single commercial designation, wary of the impact on the neighborhood.

The Lancaster/Melbourne Avenue Block Club says it is not opposed to redevelopment of the 6.7-acre property. But it contends that decisions about zoning should be made on a building-by-building basis, rather than allowing for a blanket rezoning. The city’s Planning Board is scheduled to take up the issue at its meeting Tuesday.

In a letter to Planning Board members and elected officials, block club president Gretchen Cercone said a blanket rezoning to a commercial designation could open up the neighborhood to a deluge of retail development.

“Our neighborhood does not need or want 100,000 square feet of additional retail space,” Cercone wrote. “It is not appropriate for a large-scale shopping area to be plopped down in the middle of one of Buffalo’s most historic neighborhoods.” Block club members also said a rezoning would be favorable to TM Montante because it would increase the property’s resale value.

Byron Deluke, TM Montante’s director of public affairs, said in a statement: “We are going to let a process play out.” The company otherwise declined to comment.

TM Montante’s planned redevelopment includes 475 residential apartments, townhomes and condominiums, a 53-unit continuing care retirement community operated by Canterbury Woods, a grocery store, gym and additional office space. The eight buildings in the plan consist of about 930,0000 square feet. The $150 million project is expected to take five to seven years to complete.

The Planning Board has already approved demolition of the main hospital tower. The implosion is expected to take place in late summer or early fall.

email: mglynn@buffnews.com