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Letter: Gates Circle project has too much retail

Gates Circle project has too much retail

Many people do not like the Gates Circle project. Or rather, they do not like the part of it that drops a 136,000-square-foot retail bomb in the middle of a Buffalo residential neighborhood.

Right now the Buffalo Planning Board is reviewing a document that would give conceptual approval by the city for a near million-square-foot complex of offices, residences and retail operations on Delaware just south of Gates. Once that stage is set, the TM Montante project would be just a zoning change application away from being generally free to put in shopping center retail volume on the site.

Other approvals would be necessary, but they could be made to flow more or less automatically from the Planning Board’s conceptual approval and later city zoning change.

People are not against development, not even large development on the site. But they know that so much retail would turn existing neighborhood streets into residential versions of mall feeder roads.

So far, 346 people have signed a petition against the retail zoning change. On two of the many impacted nearby residential streets, 64 members of the Lancaster-Melbourne block club have signed a strong letter opposing retail.

Yet the developer’s website continues to trumpet its banner claim that the “plan for the redevelopment of Gates Circle stood out as exceptional because it brings together the right mix of partners and ideas.”

The truth is that this redevelopment project is not right because the neighborhood is not part of the plan and sees that so much retail on Delaware at Gates is a bad idea.

The zoning change would be discretionary by the city. The Planning Board should move for city officials and citizens now and reject approval of a conceptual plan that features so much retail.

James A. Smith