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People Inc. planning to build 40 apartments for seniors at Gates Circle

The next shoe is about to drop at Gates Circle, as the second project proposed for the former hospital site is now bubbling to the surface.

Social services agency People Inc. is developing plans for a new low-income residential complex for seniors aged 55 and over, to be located on a former hospital parking lot at the southeastern corner of Linwood and Lafayette avenues. Specific plans are still in flux, but agency officials have talked with community residents about a three-story, 40-unit apartment building as a preliminary concept.

Rents would be aimed at those households with incomes between 30 percent and 130 percent of the area median, adjusted for size, while six units would be set aside for those with disabilities, officials have told neighbors, including members of the Gates Circle Advisory Council. Tentative plans at one point called for 34 one-bedroom apartments and six two-bedroom units.

The 1.1-acre property at 637 Linwood is across the street from the larger 6.9-acre former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital site, now owned by TM Montante Development. People Inc. and Montante officials would not confirm details of the project, but Montante spokesman Earl Wells of E3 Communications said the two organizations are “currently in discussions on a business transaction.”

“We are very excited about this project as it adheres to the overall goals of the redevelopment of the Gates Circle site of creating a vibrant and mixed-use development connecting diverse neighborhoods in one of most historic areas in the city of Buffalo,” Wells said in an emailed statement.

The site is located just north of the Linwood Historic Preservation District, which may trigger review of any project by the city Preservation Board and Common Council, as well as by the Planning Board. People Inc. officials have indicated to neighbors that they are aware of that status, and will be respectful of community concerns on issues like appearance, aesthetics and design. The agency told community members it also plans to apply for state low-income housing tax credits to help with financing.

“We are very much in the beginning stages. We haven’t signed off on anything,” said People Inc. spokeswoman Leslie Garrity. “We really want to be collaborative with the community.”

Officials are hoping to set up additional meetings with community groups and neighbors soon. So far, however, no plans have been filed, and Ellicott District Councilmember and Council President Darius Pridgen said he was not yet aware of any project.

The proposed new project comes as construction continues on the first piece of redevelopment taking place on the Gates Circle site: Canterbury Woods. Episcopal Church Home & Affiliates is building a second campus for its successful senior continuing care community, with 53 independent-living apartments and five assisted-living units in a six-story building on 1.4 acres fronting on the circle. Officials broke ground on the $41 million project in May, and expect to finish in late 2017. The company already has 130 reservations for apartments.

No other specific projects have been proposed as yet, but Montante has said it plans upwards of 500 apartments, condominiums or townhouses spread across multiple buildings, plus a grocery store, fitness club and ground-floor retail space. Montante officials have been seeking to line up Tops Markets and the YMCA as tenants, but neither has finalized intention to do so.


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