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PRIVATE DEVELOPMENT OF UB HOUSING OK'D

The University at Buffalo is getting its wish for privately developed student housing on UB land in Amherst.

Gov. Pataki has signed a special bill authorizing the State University of New York trustees to lease two parcels on UB's North Campus to a not-for-profit corporation, which then may sublease the land for private development of 250 units of student housing.

"We're delighted," said UB Senior Vice President Robert J. Wagner, noting that the new housing will be built on one or both of these vacant parcels:

8.5 acres to the west of Lake LaSalle, bounded on the north by John James Audubon Parkway, on the east by Lee Road and on the south by the North Campus bookstore.

10.5 acres bounded by Rensch Road on the north, Hadley Road on the east and Audubon Parkway on the south and west.

UB, which has gone without new on-campus student housing for decades, has lobbied for the ability to construct apartment-style housing on its campuses.

With this special legislation, co-sponsored by Assemblyman Paul A. Tokasz, D-Cheektowaga, and State Sen. Mary Lou Rath, R-Williamsville, SUNY trustees will be able to lease the land to the UB Foundation, which will seek bids from private companies.

"The actual operation of the new units will be through the UB housing office," Wagner said. He added that an architect for the 250 units, which will house as many as 1,000 students, will be selected soon.

"We'll get going on the design," he said. "We hope to begin . . . work in the summer of 1998. We're looking at completion by the fall of 1999."

The cost of the project has not been determined, Wagner said, noting that UB will borrow the money and that "there will be no cost to the state."

Pataki, in a memorandum filed with the bill, said he approved it "with considerable hesitation." He said he supported its intent of "giving SUNY the management flexibility necessary to create high-quality and affordable housing for (UB) students," but he expressed discomfort with some of its provisions.

"A number of statutory provisions that have not appeared before in SUNY ground-lease bills are included in this legislation," he noted.

He cited language in the bill that "restricts the (State) University's ability to employ non-state personnel on the leased property in situations where the collective-bargaining agreements between the State University and public employee unions permit such employment."

He also mentioned language that "makes the requirements of the prevailing wage law applicable to all contracts entered into pursuant to this legislation."

Wagner said neither of Pataki's concerns applied in UB's situation.

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