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Developer makes second attempt for WellNow urgent-care on Elmwood

A Rochester developer is resuscitating a proposal to construct an urgent-care clinic at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Amherst Street – less than two months after the Zoning Board of Appeals nearly killed the project by rejecting three variance requests.

Caliber Brokerage and WellNow Urgent Care want to build a 3,500-square-foot medical clinic at 1597 Elmwood Ave. and 709-711 Amherst St., using a 0.46-acre parcel that combines the three properties at the prime intersection.

Plans by Silvestri Architects, Excel Engineering and Tredo Engineers call for demolishing two existing commercial storefronts and two multi-family residential structures – including a squat gray building that housed a used bookstore. In their place, the developers would erect a one-story medical outpatient facility and a paved 35-space surface parking lot. The facade would be brick and glass.

According to their latest application to the ZBA, the developers said they need onsite parking for the safety of staff and patients, and can't do so on just the one parcel. Representatives said the proposed building would be "an anchor for the corner of Elmwood and Amherst Street," and also noted that a requested rezoning will not "exceed the existing limitations" of a neighboring CVS Pharmacy property.

"The character of the neighborhood will not be affected" by the variance and project, because the property is already in a largely commercial district, and traffic volume is not high, they wrote. They also said ambulances never arrive at the facility unless a patient is being transferred to a hospital.

Last time around, the developers sought four variances for the front, rear and side yards, and for side-yard parking, making many of the same arguments.

New urgent-care facility proposed for Elmwood-Amherst intersection

But the ZBA denied the requests, citing the "undesirable change to the character and physical conditions of the neighborhood that the proposed variances would produce."

This time, the developers are seeking only one variance, for a side yard. The ZBA will take up the request on May 15, at 2 p.m.

If approved, officials hope to start work by mid-June, finishing the core and shell of the building by November.

The project does not require Planning Board approval, but it does require rezoning by the Common Council, as well as demolition and building permits.

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