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Kaleida to keep community informed about plans for hospital

Kaleida Health says it aims to be open and transparent with its neighbors as the company develops a process for reusing the current Women & Children’s Hospital campus once operations are moved to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Corridor in 2016.

During a community meeting Tuesday in the hospital’s Alford Auditorium, Kaleida officials announced the members of a community advisory committee that is still being formed and will be tasked with keeping residents and local business owners near the hospital up to date throughout the upcoming reuse process. The members include Mike Attardo, owner of Get Dressed; Carly Battin of the Elmwood Village Association; and Ellen Malone of the Hodge Neighborhood Block Club.

“We want to get the committee seated as soon as possible and actually have them meet,” said Michael Hughes, vice president of Kaleida Health.

Hughes also gave those attending Tuesday’s meeting a brief overview of the previous reuse plans that were developed for Millard Fillmore and Deaconess hospitals, two other Kaleida Health sites.

Similar tacks will likely be pursued with the current Children’s Hospital site. “For the Millard Fillmore Gates process, the community advisory [group] met monthly, and we did quarterly updates. That may not be sufficient for this project, or it may be sufficient,” Hughes said.

As was done with the Gates Circle site, Hughes said, the next order of business will be to seek requests for proposals from companies that are interested in redeveloping the Children’s Hospital site.

There was not a lot of market interest in the Gates Circle site, so Kaleida officials engaged third-party expertise, the Urban Land Institute and Cassidy Turley, a national real estate consultant, to identify organizations with hospital redevelopment experience and offer a them $1 million incentive. Out of two qualified applicants, Chason Affinity was selected last August to develop a veterinary school of medicine on the site.

Hughes said the focus groups and other community groups Kaleida has engaged over the past six months don’t think there will be any need for third-party assistance on redeveloping the Children’s campus.

Five residential properties on West Utica Street that were formerly owned by Kaleida have since been sold to Buffalo Land Holdings, which has been rehabilitating the properties in order to put them back on the tax rolls.

“That was the No. 1 request that the neighbors had. The hospital announced it was moving, and the neighbors came and said, ‘Please put those homes back on the market,’ and we did,” said Hughes.