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Benderson fit to develop site

The Elmwood-Hertel business corridor could see a major spurt in development.

On the same day that Buffalo's Planning Board approved a design for a new fitness center in the North Buffalo neighborhood, Benderson Development Co. disclosed Tuesday that it has ambitious long-term plans for the parcels. It hopes to build four additional commercial buildings on land that is bordered by Elmwood and Hertel avenues and Botsford Place.

An attorney for Benderson did not disclose how much square footage the prospective buildings might contain, what tenants are being courted or a time line for proceeding with future development phases.

But Benderson plans to include 489 parking spaces in the new business park, attorney James A. Boglioli told the Planning Board.

The Planning Board gave the developer the green light to begin work on a two-story 45,000-square-foot fitness center off Elmwood, behind Citizens Bank. Some board members said they were pleased that the design includes ample green space, bicycle racks, pedestrian access via new sidewalks and tree-plantings.

"They've pretty much done everything the board has asked," said Chairman James K. Morrell.

Benderson officials will meet today with some residents to present their plans for the fitness center. Boglioli said it's possible the developer will seek minor amendments to the plan based on community feedback. But no residents spoke at Tuesday's public hearing in City Hall.

Benderson has not disclosed the tenant that will occupy the fitness center. The project will involve demolishing an old industrial building and constructing the new two-story complex on land near Botsford Place, just north of Hertel.

The project received generally favorable reviews at Tuesday's meeting.

"Any investment in this area is terrific," said Planning Board member Horace A. Gioia.

The only concern that was raised came from Frank A. Manuele, a former city planning director, who said there is already heavy traffic in the Hertel-Elmwood area.

While he said he doesn't envision the proposed fitness center having a major impact on traffic, he said the issue is something that should be carefully reviewed as future development phases are discussed.


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