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Public forum scheduled on site use

How best to use the site of Millard Fillmore Hospital at Gates Circle after its services move out in 2012 will be the focus of a public forum from 5 to 6:30 p.m. today in the Embassy Suites at the Avant Building.

Kaleida Health has brought in the Urban Land Institute to offer recommendations, and the forum is billed as an opportunity for the public to share ideas with the organization.

The nonprofit Urban Land Institute, based in Washington, D.C., and its panel of architects, urban planners, land developers and economic development specialists has a successful track record of building consensus around development projects. In Buffalo, it was the group hired to produce the blueprint for reusing the historic H.H. Richardson Complex.

Millard Fillmore is scheduled to close in early 2012 after its services -- mainly heart surgery and stroke care -- move to a new facility under construction next to Buffalo General Hospital on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The Gates Circle property, which sits on nearly 10 acres of land, is approximately 800,000 square feet. The hospital has occupied the site since 1911.

Kaleida Health wants the institute to provide advice on how to best position the hospital land and building for a sale.

Among other things, the hospital system said it is seeking recommendations on the appropriate goals for Kaleida Health, the city and other stakeholders, the role the city could play in the sale and redevelopment of the hospital, and such key issues as planning, design, transportation and historical preservation.

"We are committed to having a community conversation on the future of the property," James R. Kaskie, president and CEO of Kaleida Health, said in a statement. "Bringing in a group like the Urban Land Institute will help facilitate a public dialogue on what's best for the site. Can it be redeveloped? Should it be redeveloped? Should it be torn down and made shovel-ready? Those are the questions that need to be answered for the community."

An advisory panel from the institute plans to examine the hospital this week and conduct interviews with hospital officials, neighborhood groups and others. It will then draft a report that will be presented to the public at 8 a.m. Friday in Millard Fillmore Hospital's Webster Hall.


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