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Developers reveal plans for former Hamburg motherhouse and surrounding 18 acres

The new roundabout under construction at South Park Avenue and Sowles Road in Hamburg won’t be the only change to that intersection.

There could be stores, offices, town homes and apartments on the grounds of the former Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph motherhouse at the intersection’s northeast corner.

Fifteen months after acquiring the property, developers are revealing their plans for the motherhouse and the surrounding 18 acres.

Town homes along Sowles would be the first new buildings on the grounds in an investment of up to $30 million, if the plan is approved by the town. But the stately main building may pose some obstacles to redevelopment.

“It’s constructed in a manner that limits the re-purposing of it,” said Philip J. Nanula, president of Essex Homes and a partner in the overall project. “It’s a little challenging to reuse.”

The Franciscan Sisters lived on the property for more than 80 years before selling it in 2015 for $1.25 million. It includes a 54,670-square-foot, diamond-shaped medical facility; a 143,432-square-foot, 165-bed main convent attached to the medical facility, with wings extending to both sides; and a two-story, 5,364-square-foot stand-alone convent in a former house. The main convent was built in 1928, while the wings were added in the 1960s.

The parcel is owned by Nick Sinatra’s Sinatra & Co. Real Estate, the Nanula family’s Nanco Inc. and John Militello of Site Management Technologies.

The development doesn’t have a name yet. Nanula said the key to naming it will be determining the use of the motherhouse.

“It could end up having multiple names,” he said.

Developers want to preserve the central section of the building with its rich woodwork, but they could remove the wings on either side.

“We do not plan on leveling the entire building,” Nanula said.

The main building could have multiple uses, including office, retail or multifamily units, he said. The trees and open space directly in front of the main section would remain.

The rear of the motherhouse could be used for heath care or education.

The newer section that “looks very much like a hospital” could be used as an outpatient facility or for ambulatory surgery, Nanula said.

Essex Homes is developing the 26 town homes, which would not need a rezoning, Nanula said.

The town has encouraged the developer to submit a proposal for a planned unit development outlining uses for the entire parcel, which would need approval from the Town Board.

The first town home units would be “up-and-down” three-bedroom units of about 1,700 square feet, with 2½ bathrooms and attached garages, he said. He hopes to start construction in late fall or early winter.

Multifamily units and light retail would go along South Park on the north side of the property, and multifamily units would be built on the east section of the property in a future phase.

In all, 101 living units and 336 parking spaces are planned.

The grotto area maintained by the sisters will remain, Nanula said.


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