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Buffalo Planning Board likes planned Allentown assisted living facility

The Buffalo Planning Board expressed support late Monday for a planned new assisted-living and memory-care facility in Allentown that would replace an abandoned nursing home on North Street.

Formal approval of the proposed WestMont on North facility will have to wait until early April, after a mandatory environmental review and public hearing. But board members clearly indicated they were leaning heavily in favor of the project that will demolish the 60-year-old former Nazareth Home that was operated by Catholic Health until it closed in 2002.

La Jolla, Calif.-based WestMont Living, which has focused mostly on the West Coast but has ties to Buffalo through one of its principals, pis buying the 2.94-acre property east of Symphony Circle from Uniland Development Co.

The 20-year-old firm wants to build a red brick complex at 279-291 North, with 123 suites and 136 beds for seniors in need of various levels of care short of a full medical facility. The assisted-living units are designed for those residents who need help with meals, bathing, grooming and other daily needs, while the memory-care area – on the first floor – would be for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

The Planning Board couldn’t vote because the environmental review lasts through March 17, and WestMont is seeking a parking variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals on March 23. A final vote is expected April 4.

Separately, planners accepted an environmental review of Ciminelli Real Estate Corp.’s proposed conversion of the former Mentholatum Co. and Garrett Leather building at 1360 Niagara St. into apartments and commercial space. The developer is also seeking a rezoning from Common Council, and expects final Planning Board approval March 21, said project manager Amber Holycross.

In other action, the board:

• Approved a modified plan for DHD Ventures’ student housing project, 100 on Forest, near Buffalo State College. DHD wants to build a $30 million complex on the 11-acre former Contract Pharmaceuticals property, with 10 buildings and 176 suite-style apartments that could house as many as 592 students. DHD modified the project to remove awnings and 18-inch “Juliet” balconies from the facade, and to convert the roofs from flat to sloped. The complex is slated to open in August 2017.

• Backed a proposal by Torn Space Theater to renovate a former gas station and convenience store into a production and design studio, alongside its main theater space on the first floor of the Adam Mickiewicz Library at 612 Fillmore Avenue. The $700,000 project, which received money from the Better Buffalo Fund, includes facade changes and minor improvements on the interior.

• Approved a proposal by Adham Saleh and Donna Taha to convert a derelict one-story concrete-block commercial structure at 1415 Fillmore Avenue into a new retail building, with three storefront units, and eventually to put on an addition to house two more retail units.

• Approved a plan for a fitness facility addition to Bishop Timon High School.

• Recommended approval by the Common Council of a proposal by Christopher Daigler, Christopher Baker, Joseph Gugino and Vito Nicolosi to reopen a restaurant in 5,800 square feet of leased space at 204 Allen St. The restaurant would be called Fallie Allen’s, and would have “more of a Mother’s feel,” said Daigler, referring to the popular Allentown-area restaurant. Daigler is a former chef’s at Oliver’s, while Gugino has worked in other restaurants.