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Charter school leases Elmwood Ave. site

Little voices will fill a long-idle building this fall on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo's Allentown neighborhood.

The Elmwood Village Charter School has signed a lease for a former New York Telephone building at 124 Elmwood Ave., between North and Allen streets.

"It seems to be the perfect location. We're the Elmwood Village Charter School, and we'll be right on Elmwood Avenue," said Marguerite Battaglia-Evans, an organizer of the city's newest charter school.

Battaglia-Evans said several features of the 24,000-square-foot, four-story building, built in the early 1920s, make it appropriate for an elementary school.

"The layout is great for classrooms, there's a wonderful atrium in the center, and it comes with parking, which is so difficult to find," she said.

The site also has space for a playground for the 125 pupils in kindergarten through fourth grade expected to begin classes there in September.

Battaglia-Evans said the building's location in the heart of Allentown will enable pupils to be a part of the neighborhood.

"We want our students to be linked as much as possible to the culture, history and diversity of the city. We want them to be a part of their classroom, school and the bigger community," she said.

The bustling urban address will offer opportunities for walking and discovery tours to such cultural destinations as Kleinhans Music Hall, the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site and the Theatre of Youth.

Savarino Construction Services, which has owned the building for slightly more than a year, had contemplated a mix of office, residential and retail uses.

"There's two generous floors and a basement that will be wonderful space for a small elementary school," said Sam Savarino, company president. "Right now they don't plan to use the penthouse floor, but as they grow they might want that for administrative space or maybe a staff lounge."

In addition to 35 on-site parking spaces, Savarino has an arrangement to use a nearby parking lot with room for another 70 slots.

The Elmwood Village Charter School held a lottery Friday for its first kindergarten class. Openings remain available for first through fourth grades. More information is available at 886-4581.

The school plans to add a fifth-grade class in the 2007-08 school year, followed by a sixth grade in 2008-09.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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