By Bill Paladino and Nick Sinatra
The joined talents of Ellicott Development Co. and Sinatra & Co. Real Estate are diligently putting plans in place to advance Elmwood Crossing. This will be the rebirth of the now vacant Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo campus.
Within its site reuse request for proposals, Kaleida Health’s board of directors emphasized important community values that included two clear directives – to engage the community with a great plan, and, to move forward on its execution. The development team is keeping to those commitments.
In effort to be responsive to stakeholder concerns about a recently vacated eight acres in the midst of a vibrant community, and to deliver on commitments made to Kaleida, the development team has engaged this community on a path for reuse. This involves a multi-project approach, commencing with a proposed six-story, mixed-use building, on the corner of Elmwood and Bryant. Currently, that site is a surface parking lot, where remediation and construction needs are most clearly defined. The existing buildings, built in a sequence over 80 years, will require a complex analysis of structural, mechanical, environmental and design elements. This analysis will occur on a parallel path with the completion of a necessary Environmental Impact Statement.
Advancing the Elmwood and Bryant project results in the most effective turnaround of some allowable activity. This benefits both the vital local businesses that surround the site, as well as residents who want to see responsible progress within their neighborhood. The remainder of the site must await the various investigations, municipal and state approvals that will likely take an uncontrollable 10 months. Holding back on the first project at Elmwood and Bryant will not result in other work occurring at a faster pace.
The development team has demonstrated its commitment to a transparent, community-minded conversation about the realities, complexities and ultimate outcome for the site. Since being designated as the preferred developer, the team has met with the Project Advisory Committee on numerous occasions, attended block club meetings, met with Elmwood Avenue business leaders, presented its plans publicly, were available for other community meetings, and created a website available for the community to find information. Based on those interactions, feedback was robust. Concessions have been made, and the development plan has changed for the better. Conversations are anticipated to continue, yet as ongoing community engagement proceeds, it is imperative for decisions to be made, and reuse work to begin.
At times in this process, the best ideas have been competing. In those cases, the leadership decisions must be driven by the community values and goals as defined early in the process. Confidently, the development team moves forward with Elmwood Crossing in a way that transforms the site to reflect the existing neighborhood fabric in an achievable, community-minded approach – on the most expeditious timeline possible.
Bill Paladino is CEO of Ellicott Development. Nick Sinatra is founder and president of Sinatra & Co. Real Estate.