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Even with more brick, Canterbury Woods rendering fails to impress neighbors

It showed more brick and less metal, but the latest rendering of the proposed Canterbury Woods senior living project at Gates Circle got the same response from neighbors: It’s not good enough for a major gateway to the Elmwood East Historic District and Olmsted Parks system.

Neighbor John Montague called the proposal ordinary and suburban, when it should be an opportunity to build something spectacular.

“It could be a college dormitory,” he said. “It really begs to be a better building.”

He asked if a crescent shape was considered, since the 58-unit residence would be built on a circle.

Canterbury Woods unveiled its latest proposal during a community meeting at the Burchfield Penney Art Center on Monday. Residents had complained that the top three floors of the $40 million, six-story building, with its modern design and metal panels, did not fit in with the bottom of the building, that had more brick, nor the neighborhood.

Episcopal Church Home officials proposed a blend of natural stone and brick for the lower levels of the facade, while incorporating metal panels and other materials on the face of the upper three stories.

The new facade would use 51 percent less of the metal, replacing it with brick, said Rob Wallace, president and chief executive officer of Canterbury Woods.

“We’re trying to respond to those concerns,” he said. “It’s a balance.”

Residents had a chance to study the new drawings, then participate in a question-and-answer session in the auditorium. The meeting was scheduled by Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen, who said he took notes of what the speakers said. Only one was positive.

Pridgen said he would compile a summary of the comments and present it to the Planning Board, which has the final say on the project. The board meets Monday. Meanwhile, Pridgen encouraged the developer to listen to residents’ concerns.

Gretchen Cercone, president of the Lancaster Avenue Block Club, said up until an hour before the meeting started, there was not going to be an opportunity for people to speak at the meeting. She thanked Pridgen for making sure neighbors had a chance to speak.

Most of the comments mirrored those of Montague.

“I do think there is a chance being missed here,” said Peter Dow, who said the building should be a statement to other developers that the city is not settling for mediocrity.

Cercone, who said she was speaking for several other block clubs in the area, said neighbors want a building that sets the standard by which all other buildings will follow.

“We want natural materials with that are historically appropriate. We want a roof line that is consistent with historic buildings on Delaware Avenue,” she added. “We want to embrace our neighbors at Canterbury Woods.”

Kevin D. Murrett, president, CEO and founder of Architectural Resources, the firm that designed the building, said the architects sought input from many sources.

“We’re trying to make the right choices throughout this whole process,” he said.

The design sought to be respectful of history with an eye to the future.

“Aesthetically, maybe we are not going to satisfy everyone,” he said.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com