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Editorial: Glimmer of hope for a second Emerson School

Buffalo’s Emerson School of Hospitality has the right ingredients for academic success, so it is disappointing that it is taking so long to find a location for a second Emerson.

The fact that two well-known and successful developers are now proposing a site and beginning the groundwork that will be required if their proposal is accepted raises hope that the school could open for the fall of 2018.

The current location on West Chippewa, an area bustling with foot traffic from the clutch of restaurants, coffee shops and a new hotel, is humming with students learning to prepare meals that are enjoyed by the public at the school’s restaurant.

The program has proven its worth. Graduation rates have been astoundingly high compared with the dismal numbers seen in much of the district – although those numbers are finally beginning to rise under the leadership of Superintendent Kriner Cash.

Emerson students – more than half minority and a quarter classified as special education – are eager to show up and learn. The relationship works well for the students and diners, and will only get more popular with the 17,000 people who will be working at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and with residents moving into an increasing number of apartments in the downtown core.

So in order to keep pace with demand for the program, the district needed another location. Krog Corp. wanted to put the second Emerson school inside its Trico Building, at 817 Washington St. on the Medical Campus. The school had been a core piece of Krog’s $90 million project. But after delays in getting the project off the ground, the district abruptly pulled out.

The district requested new proposals, which are due by Wednesday.

Enter Uniland Development Co., run by Carl J. Montante, and Rocco Termini’s Signature Development Buffalo LLC with a $70 million project to be located at the north end of the block bordered by Ellicott, Oak and Tupper streets, property they own.

The project includes the school – with classrooms, kitchens, a bakery, offices, a banquet facility and a public restaurant – and an office building and parking ramp.

Even though there may be other bidders, they recognized that the district’s tight 18-month time frame will be an obstacle and went ahead and submitted their application for site plan approval with the Buffalo Planning Board and without Emerson as a guaranteed participant.

We don’t know whether the Uniland-Signature idea suits the district’s needs or is the best possible proposal. Suffice to say, it is reassuring to see keen interest in replicating one of the Buffalo School District’s success stories.

Students, and hungry customers, are eager to see Emerson II open.

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