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TM Montante starts talks on next Gates Circle project

Developer TM Montante is beginning to talk with neighbors about another new building on its sprawling site at Gates Circle that could include an urban grocery store and more apartments.

Montante officials confirmed that they have begun talking with both potential tenants and the community about the next proposed building for the planned Lancaster Square at Gates Circle development.

The building, which is in the early planning stages, would be located on a parcel at Lancaster and Linwood avenues, next to a city-owned parking ramp that Montante is negotiating to purchase. Current plans call for it to include a neighborhood grocery store of up to 25,000 square feet, along with potentially 140 to 150 apartments, although those figures are tentative, officials said.

There's no confirmation of any particular grocer that would occupy the space, although the developer has said both Dash's Markets and Tops Friendly Markets have been interested in the past.

No renderings or design plans for the building have been presented, although residents were asked at a recent forum whether they preferred an apartment structure or townhomes facing Linwood. The Green Code would limit the height along Linwood, which is a city historic preservation district, to 3.5 stories, but the building could be taller farther back.

"The project really is conceptual at this stage – and we just started talking to the neighbors about it," said Montante spokesman Byron DeLuke. "These discussions are very preliminary in nature."

He declined to comment further and stressed that the firm has focused its attention on the construction of a six-story apartment and retail building at the corner of Delaware and Lancaster avenues that was approved by the city Planning Board in May.

That $13 million structure at 1299 Delaware Ave. will include three first-floor retail spaces and 60 market-rate apartments on the upper floors. About 70 percent of the units would be one-bedroom apartments while the rest would have two bedrooms, officials have previously said. The 60,000-square-foot project is expected to open next summer.

The company is preparing to start work on that building.

Additionally, DeLuke said, the developer is working on "continued efforts" to preserve the original homeopathic hospital building that remains from the old Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital complex.

The developers have left some of the original hospital buildings intact and plan to reuse them. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Montante's new proposal would mark the fourth new project on the former Millard Fillmore Hospital property since the developer took possession of the site from Kaleida Health and demolished most of the existing buildings. It's working with Rochester-based Morgan Communities on the overall $150 million redevelopment project, which envisions about 500 apartments, condominiums and townhomes, plus the grocery store, a fitness center and other first-floor retail space in multiple buildings.

Two other projects are underway on land that was either sold or will be sold to others. Episcopal Church Home & Affiliates is constructing a six-story urban campus at 3 Gates Circle for its Canterbury Woods senior community in Amherst. The $41 million building, which is nearing completion, features 53 independent-living and five assisted-living apartments.

In addition, nonprofit human services agency People Inc. is planning to erect its own three-story senior housing building at 637 Linwood Ave., with 37 units and parking on 1.1 acres. The project was backed by the Buffalo Planning Board, and also received approval for state financing through New York State Homes and Community Renewal’s Housing Trust Fund Corp.

Rendering of People Inc. project at Gates Circle.

People Inc. is now completing its construction documents in preparation for applying for a building permit in early September and then closing on construction financing Nov. 1. That would allow construction to begin, with work expected to finish within a year. Officials will begin marketing the units in April or May of 2018.

"We are so excited to begin and be a part of this wonderful rejuvenation of a neighborhood," said Jocelyn S. Bos, vice president of housing development for People Inc. "And we have been receiving calls already from seniors interested in renting apartments. The mixed income of the folks calling is encouraging and reinforcing of the markets we plan on servicing."

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