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D'Youville obtains rezoning for Health Professions Hub properties

Plans aren't yet final for D'Youville College's proposed new Health Professions Hub, but the West Side school is getting its ducks in a row in preparation.

The Buffalo Planning Board on Monday agreed to rezone several properties on Connecticut Street and West Avenue to allow for the $20 million project to create a clinical training center that will educate future health professionals through associates, bachelors and advanced degree programs, while also offering primary care services to residents of D'Youville's West Side neighborhood.

Plans call for a 50,000-square-foot building on 0.86 acres on the west side of Connecticut, with a community health clinic on the first floor, classrooms and conference space for a workforce development center on the second floor, and a virtual simulation training center on the third floor, as well as a two-story, 200-seat amphitheater. The project will also include a cafe.

The parcels at 252-274, 283, 295 and 305 Connecticut and at 488-492 West — in all, totaling just over 3 acres — had been categorized as neighborhood commercial or residential, but D'Youville wanted them changed to "educational campus," to match the rest of its real estate.

"We think the rezoning is appropriate, simply to harmonize those uses with the rest of the campus," said Charles D. Grieco, an attorney at Bond Schoeneck & King, representing D'Youville. "All of this is for the benefit of the college, the neighborhood and the city."

The property includes the site of an abandoned gas station that D'Youville had already cleaned up, as well as a 4,500-square-foot educational building with four classrooms that will not be kept. Most of the land will be used for the proposed hub building, but a small portion is part of Parking Lot C, which will also be expanded.

D'Youville seeks first city approval for Health Professions Hub project

The Planning Board also backed D'Youville's application to the Common Council for the project to be designated a planned-unit development. That's used to specify the uses that can be permitted for a mixed-use project at the start, to allow for a broader range than might be allowed within a single zoning classification, while also imposing limits.

In this case, the school proposes to restrict any new building to 60 feet and four stories in height — consistent with its plans — instead of the maximum of 12 stories that would normally be allowed for educational campus zoning. The PUD designation would also prohibit use of the property for indoor or outdoor amusement, light industrial, live entertainment or heliports.

D'Youville must still come back to the Planning Board for site plan approval at a later date.

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