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SNYDER EYEING HOSPITAL PROJECT; SEEKS TO PARTICIPATE IN DEVELOPING NATIONAL CENTER

Buffalo developer Paul Snyder confirmed Wednesday he hopes to participate in a plan to expand and link hospital and medical research facilities in the High Street area to create a major national health center.

"This should end up as the largest public-private development ever done in Western New York," Snyder said. "We are involved, and we do hope to be designated the developer for a series of properties there."

Snyder would not offer any further details. He said an announcement could come in about two weeks.

Mayor Griffin has said previously the city is encouraging the development of a national medical center at High Street.

Gail Johnstone, director of planning at Roswell Park Memorial Institute, said discussions surrounding the development include:

A new hospital-laboratory building for Roswell Park.

A new joint research facility for Roswell Park, Buffalo General Hospital and the Medical Foundation of Buffalo.

Shared use facilities for diagnostic radiology, radiation medicine and laser surgery.

Connections to link the various medical buildings and a shared power plant. The facilities also would discuss coordinating their graphics and signs.

Expansion of the Buffalo Medical Group offices.

A conference center.

General commercial and retail development along Main Street near the Allen-Hospital Station of Metro Rail.

A residential development to serve nurses, medical interns and residents, staff and the general area market.

A "medical inn" to provide accommodations for people visiting long-term-care patients. The hotel would include a health club for guests, medical center employees and the public, and a restaurant.

No price tag for the project was revealed. But during a meeting last November of the Oak Street Task Force, a neighborhood improvement organization, Ms. Johnstone told members the Roswell expansion plan alone could cost as much as $40 million.

Ms. Johnstone said the hospitals would probably expand their buildings and construct new laboratories on their land. Snyder likely would be the developer of the commercial portion of the project, such as the hotel, health club and restaurant.

Delaware Common Council Member Alfred T. Coppola said Wednesday that Snyder wants to build his development on land the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency is seeking to acquire through negotiations or condemnation.

The agency wants to acquire the Marine Midland Bank branch at Main and High streets, the Townhouse motel at 991-999 Main St. and the rear of the property at 24 High St. as an amendment of the Oak Street Redevelopment Urban Renewal Plan.

Coppola's comments came during a meeting of the Council Economic Development Committee. Committee members said the Council won't support the urban renewal agency's plan to acquire the properties until city officials bring in more definite plans for the area.

"I know nothing, and there is no way I'm going to vote for this until I see something I can put my hands on," committee Chairman Clifford Bell said.

Committee members also said they are concerned about the proposal's effect on the Langston-Hughes Center at 25 High St. The Afro-American cultural center is in the middle of the planned campus.

The full Council plans to hold a hearing on the agency's land acquisition request next Tuesday.

Ms. Johnstone said talks between city and hospital officials concerning the future development of the area have been under way for more than one year.

Last December, Griffin said the High Street properties were needed to allow the expansion of the medical complex into a center that would rival facilities in Cleveland and at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

He said employment could increase from 6,000 to 15,000 people if the plan were realized. Ms. Johnstone said Roswell Park and Buffalo General already serve patients from outside the region. She said the mayor's hopes to increase its national appeal fit in with what administrators have in mind.

"Roswell Park want to provide facilities for research on the cutting edge or provide patient care that's not available in a lot of parts of the country," she said.

Langston-Hughes board chairman Anthony Delgado said his organization would like to be a part of the plan.

He said the center currently is asking the urban renewal agency to give it full title to the 39,000-square-foot, four-story brick building it has occupied since 1971.

"We hope to be redeveloped as part of this," Delgado said, "but we haven't closed the door on what might happen."

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