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Implosion approved for Millard Fillmore Hospital at Gates Circle

Coming soon to an early Saturday morning in North Buffalo: a big boom and a whole lot of dust.

TM Montante Development will go ahead with its planned implosion of the main hospital tower of the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital, after the city Planning Board gave its assent Wednesday to the demolition.

No firm date has been set, but attorney Marc Romanowski, representing the developer, said it will likely occur in either late summer or early fall, depending on the weather, after crews finish mechanically taking apart as much as they can of the surrounding, attached buildings.

“We have been working with the city on this for the past six months. We’re prepared to move forward with the implosion,” said Romanowski, of Hopkins Sorgi & Romanowski. “The community is aware of this. They’re supportive of the demolition methodology, because it’s faster. In 20 seconds, the building’s on the ground, as opposed to several months.”

The demolition of the 10-story tower is a critical step in clearing the land before Montante and partner Canterbury Woods can proceed with the redevelopment of the entire 7-acre property into a mixed-use community with 475 residential apartments, condos and townhomes, a 53-unit senior living community, a gym, a grocery store and additional office space. Specifically, the new Canterbury Woods project will be located on the site now occupied by the hospital tower.

Crews have already been taking down other buildings on the site, starting with the former power plant building and then the Medical Services Building, known as Building B. Both are “largely down at this point,” except for electrical transformers that will remain, Romanowski said. But demolishing the rest of Building B will start to affect the tower and a connector building that links the older 1911 portion of the complex with the tower, which dates to the 1950s and 1960s.

“We’re getting to the point where it will start impacting other structures, so we’ve gone as far as we can,” the attorney said, explaining the timing of the demolition application, which was approved by the Preservation Board last week.

Workers will first take down the connector building and a rear kitchen area in the next couple of months, before turning to the tower itself. Montante has hired Buffalo-based Ontario Specialty Contracting and Dykon Explosive Demolition Co. of Tulsa, Okla., to handle the implosion. Dykon representatives have already been in town to survey the building and develop a detailed implosion plan, and have been “working very heavily” with city engineers, public works officials, Buffalo Police and the Buffalo Fire Department “so they’re familiar with the techniques that will be deployed,” Romanowski said.

Officials chose Saturday morning to have the least impact, and neighbors will be notified in advance, with safety tips depending on where they are and how close they would be. The city will also close some streets in the area and create a “safe perimeter” around it as part of the mitigation plans. The fire department will be available that day, and crews will use water cannons and special netting around the perimeter to minimize the dust. Workers will also seek to protect older trees with some form of covering.

Cleanup of the rubble will take about three to four weeks, Romanowski said, but contractors will be reusing all the materials from the demolitions, recycling the metal and crushing the concrete to be used as ground fill. That will make the construction easier, by minimizing how much has to be brought into and out of the site.

Once the site is cleared and level, construction can begin on Canterbury Woods. Romanowski said city planners will likely get their first look at formal design plans by the end of August, with formal consideration in September when the Planning Board returns from a summer recess.