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Kaleida gets three proposals for closed Millard Fillmore hospital

Uniland Development Co. and two other developers have submitted separate proposals to reuse the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital site in Buffalo, as Kaleida Health proceeds with its second attempt to unload a large property it no longer needs.

Kaleida Health said Tuesday that three developers responded to its newest request for proposals, which was reissued in July to 59 firms locally and nationally following the failure of the previous plan for the 10-acre site.

That earlier $65 million proposal, advanced by Chason Affinity Cos. LLC, had called for putting a veterinary school in the facility. It had been applauded by some as creative and imaginative but derided by others as unnecessary and unworkable.

But efforts by Chason to recruit DeVry University’s Ross School of Veterinary Medicine fell through over the summer, prompting Kaleida to call a halt and restart the process.

Once again, Kaleida is offering a $1 million prize for the winning developer, but only after it succeeds by taking title to the property. Kaleida did not identify any of the three applicants for this second effort, but spokesman Michael Hughes said that “all three are local developers, very well-respected, reputable developers.”

“That gives us a sense of confidence that we can get a real estate transaction completed here,” he said.

Uniland spokeswoman Jill Pawlik confirmed that the Amherst-based company is one of the three. Uniland had lost out to Chason Affinity in the original process, and she said the company resubmitted the same proposal, called Chapin Place.

“This project aligns with Uniland’s mission to build a better community,” she said. “Kaleida can be confident in our proposal due to our reputation for results.”

Uniland had originally proposed a $110 million six-story apartment building, two-story town houses, underground parking, boutique hotel, and office and retail space.

But it was also insisting on Kaleida paying some of the demolition costs, which Chason had estimated at $12 million, not including additional remediation costs.

Four firms submitted proposals the first time, but only Uniland and Chason were deemed viable.

The two other developers participating in the new process were not identified Tuesday.

Representatives of the following companies said they were not involved: McGuire Development Co., Ciminelli Real Estate Corp., LPCiminelli, Signature Development Buffalo LLC, Calamar, Creative Structures Services, Savarino Construction, Sinatra & Co. Realty, Hamister Group, Kissling Interests, Greenleaf Development, Clover Management, Matrix Development, Avalon Development and Arista Development.

“We’re not disclosing who they are until we have the time to meet with them and learn who’s who and what their plans are,” Kaleida’s Hughes said. “There’s no unique plan or nothing outside the box like the vet school.”

The initial effort to select a developer took 18 months before Kaleida’s board, with the advice of the jury, selected Chason in August 2012. But Hughes said officials “are trying to move as quickly as we can” and faster than the last time.

Dating to 1911, the empty 882,000-square-foot hospital complex consists of 13 buildings.

The hospital closed in March 2012, after it was merged into Buffalo General Medical Center as the Gates Vascular Institute, at the recommendation of the state’s Berger Commission.

Kaleida, the region’s largest hospital system, is also initiating a similar reuse process for Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, which plans to move in 2016 from its longtime Bryant Street home to a new building on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Kaleida expects to issue a request for proposals for development rights to the 7.5-acre current Children’s site in early 2014. Nick Sinatra, owner of Sinatra & Co. Realty, said he is interested in that project.

Plans aren’t finalized, but his company already has more than 300 apartments and some commercial space in that area, he said.