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AIDS agency given OK to expand historic site

AIDS Community Services has received approval from the Buffalo Preservation Board to build a 21,000-square-foot addition on the historic Roanoke Hotel, officials announced Thursday.

The new building on South Elmwood Avenue at Chippewa Street -- which will be known as the Evergreen Center of Excellence in HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care and Research -- will more than double space for medical care, educational programs and case-management services.

With the expansion, the agency is planning to partner with the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to participate in drug clinical trials and research on HIV prevention. In addition, the facility will house an adult day care program.

Founded in 1983, when the first HIV/AIDS cases were documented here, AIDS Community Services grew into a major health care provider after it set up operations in the Roanoke in 1996.

It manages care and services for about 1,100 individuals but anticipates the number of clients will grow to 1,700 in the next few years. AIDS Community Services, unlike most similar groups, also operates its own HIV-specific medical practice.

"We're maxed out in our current space," said Christopher Voltz, director of marketing and special projects.

The $7 million project requires city Planning Board approval, which is expected in the next few weeks. Construction is expected to begin in June or July.

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