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Planning Board to review Albright-Knox, Elmwood Crossing projects

Local residents — especially in the Elmwood Village area — will have a chance to weigh in on two major projects when the Buffalo Planning Board convenes Monday night.

The panel responsible for reviewing and granting applications for major new projects in the city will be taking up the planned $160 million expansion of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery – soon to be called the Albright-Knox-Gundlach Art Museum.

That project — with $52.5 million donated by billionaire investor Jeffrey Gundlach — will include a new 30,000-square-foot North Building, a new entrance and exit on the east facade of the 1962 Building, an indoor Town Square, a new educating wing and a "signature scenic bridge" to connect the new building and the 1905 Building. It's expected to double the number of works on display, create new spaces for both display and interaction, and shift parking underground.

The Planning Board also will consider the environmental review of Elmwood Crossing, which is the proposed $100 million redevelopment by Ellicott Development Co. and Sinatra & Co. Real Estate of the former Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo campus into a new residential, retail, service and commercial community.

That review document – which examines how the project impacts not only the environment but also the neighborhood – has been under development for months, and must be evaluated by the board prior to other approvals being granted. It's the first major step in a process that will ultimately include the overall site plan for the properties.

Plans for the eight-acre site call for converting the 600,000-square-foot complex into more than 220 apartments, 27 condominiums, 22 townhouses, a 75-room hotel, an urban grocery, boutique shops, office space and an EduKids daycare. Essex Homes will build the townhomes.

Most of the hospital buildings — including the Variety and Tanner towers and Alfiero — would be reused, while two would be expanded. A 34,400-square-foot portion of the tower complex will be demolished to make room for a courtyard accessible from Hodge Avenue and Bryant Street.

Tanner, along with three buildings known as the Annex, MH and D buildings, will be renovated with historic tax credits. But Variety and Alfiero will get new looks. All the buildings will be renamed.

The project is expected to take up to five years to complete, through 2022. The first component — a building that will be erected at Elmwood and Bryant — has been approved by the city.

The Planning Board also is expected to make a final decision on a plan by Severyn Development for construction of five attached townhouses at 390 Jersey St.

Additional matters include a zoning map amendment at 709 Amherst St., as well as special-use permits for outdoor dining at 299 and 301 Parkside Ave., for a brewery, tavern and alcohol sales at 249 Allen St. and minor vehicle repair at 1082 Kenmore Ave.

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