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Planning Board tables West Side arts center plan

After sparring by supporters and opponents, the Buffalo Planning Board Tuesday pushed off a decision on a proposed conversion of a West Side church into an arts complex.

The board cited a desire to wait until it receives an advisory opinion from the state Historic Preservation Office.

Developers Rachel Heckl and Savarino Cos. want to turn the vacant Richmond Avenue Methodist-Episcopal Church at Ferry Circle into the Rosanna Elizabeth Visual and Performing Arts Center.

The project would require demolition of an adjacent old house and garage, which are listed as "contributing" to the Elmwood Historic District West.

Neighbors said they support the $11 million restoration. But they object to a plan to put two floors of apartments above the Benjaman Art Gallery, saying the separate, new three-story structure is too tall.

Neighbors worry about apartments that make Richmond arts center 'viable'

Heckl's team says the apartments are needed to provide a steady revenue stream so the nonprofit campus will be sustainable. Critics called it a money-grab.

They opposed the demolitions, and called for environmental review. Supporters say not every building can or should be saved.

Planning Board delays West Side arts center over changes

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