At least three and possibly four local developers are among those expected to submit proposals to Kaleida Health to acquire and reuse the existing Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo after the new hospital opens.
Ellicott Development and Sinatra & Co. Real Estate confirmed that they are responding to the request for proposals, or RFP, that was issued in early September by the health care system. Ellicott CEO William A. Paladino said they details of his company’s proposal have not yet been finalized, and counterpart Nick Sinatra would not discuss his plans, citing a “nondisclosure agreement” that he signed as part of the process.
“We have been working hard on our Childrens RFP submission,” Sinatra said in an email.
Sources have also identified Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. and Uniland Development Co. as other likely bidders, but neither one would confirm.
Officials have previously said that both local and out-of-state developers had expressed interest in the project, but would not identify any. The request was sent out to more than 300 local, state and national developers, giving them 90 days to respond. Responses are due by Dec. 7.
“People are taking the time to make sure their submission is the strongest it can be,” said Kaleida spokesman Michael P. Hughes. “At this point, we’re looking for the responses to come in less than 30 days.”
Hughes said Kaleida officials have “hosted half a dozen tours” for developers, architects and planners to “see the hospital and get a look at the facilities,” giving the health system “an opportunity to answer questions.” Kaleida also provided online access to its building plans.
“We have had tours as well as correspondence with out-of-town developers,” Hughes said. “Whether that materializes into a formal response remains to be seen, but there has been some state and national interest.”
Kaleida is seeking a plan to take over and redevelop the 125-year-old Bryant Street campus after Children’s moves to its new home on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in 2017. The new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital is now under construction.
The older 7.9-acre campus consists of seven buildings constructed between 1917 and 1995, with 617,000 square feet of total space on land between Bryant Street and Hodge Avenue, with a handful of additional properties nearby.
Kaleida developed its RFP after more than two years of collaboration and discussion involving more than two dozen health system and community representatives, including neighbors, block club leaders and business owners, along with input from some political leaders and University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning.
The request, which features more transparency and stricter requirements than similar processes in the past, lays out a framework for development, a set of constraints and a “values statement” for the community. It also stresses continued community involvement and encourages developers to consider public transportation, the city-owned parking ramp, urban design strategies and green space.
Preference will be given to developers that clearly state their plans for any public incentives and that demonstrate a track record and ability to finance and complete the project on time. Developers will be required to pay damages of at least $1 million to Kaleida for any breach of the terms.
The goal is to achieve a faster and clearer decision within a more consistent process, while ensuring that the job gets done. The RFP was designed to improve upon Kaleida’s prior reuse initiatives for the Deaconess nursing home facility and the former Millard Fillmore Hospital at Gates Circle. “It’s safe to say that we’ve had a good process so far, and we’ll get some strong proposals,” Hughes said.
Officials are hoping for mixed-use projects that includes commercial and retail use along the land closest to Elmwood Avenue, with less-dense residential use farther into the neighborhood. A mixture of adaptive reuse and some demolition is expected.