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Roswell Park plans expansion of cancer care into Amherst

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center plans to open a satellite service site in an Amherst office park, according to town officials and public records.

Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. has submitted plans to construct a three-story, 50,000-square-foot medical office building on Park Club Lane near the Interstate 90 and 290 interchange.

Documents filed with the town's Planning Department don't identify the prospective tenant but Amherst Supervisor Brian J. Kulpa on Thursday confirmed it would be Roswell Park.

Kulpa, who will highlight the project in his State of the Town address on Friday, touted the benefits for patients from Amherst, Clarence and other points north and east who need follow-up chemotherapy and other services from Roswell Park.

"There's a ton of Roswell users out here, and it is a distance" to get to Roswell's main site on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, which still would provide main oncology services, Kulpa said.

Roswell Park is offering few details on what the institution intends to do at the site.

"As our community grows, Roswell Park needs to expand our footprint to take care of this population with our novel and innovative therapies," Candace S. Johnson, Roswell Park's president and CEO, said in a statement. "With more than a third of all Roswell Park patients residing in the Northtowns, we look to improve access and convenience to ease their burden. Many of them have told us how important it is to have Roswell Park care available close to home."

The new building would go up to the south of Univera Healthcare's headquarters at 205 Park Club Lane. and just to the west of an existing medical office building at 199 Park Club Lane, plans show. Ciminelli would build several hundred new parking spaces to the east of the site.

Roswell Park already has two affiliated practices located in the 199 Park Club Lane building – Roswell Park Hematology Oncology Northtowns and Breast Care of Western New York, formerly private practices that the cancer center acquired in 2014 – as well as a satellite clinic and chemotherapy infusion center on College Parkway in the town.

The institution hasn't yet decided how this project, if it goes through as planned, would affect those other locations, said Roswell Park spokeswoman Rebecca Vogt.

"We just began this process," Vogt said.

Ciminelli spokeswoman Anne Duggan said she didn't yet have a price tag for the development and the company hasn't determined whether it will seek tax breaks to offset the project costs.

"There is a strong market demand for medical space in the Northtowns," company President Paul F. Ciminelli said in a statement. "Park Club Lane provides excellent accessibility from both the Main Street and I-290 corridors."

The project must go through several layers of the review at the town and state level. Ciminelli needs approval from the Amherst Town Board to construct a building of this height at the site and the State Health Department also must give its OK to the facility.

The town Planning Board will review Ciminelli's application at its Jan. 16 meeting.

Kulpa said the project is notable as both a business investment in the town as well as a welcome expansion of medical care available in Amherst.

"I'd love to see a full gamut of outpatient services here," he said.

Not everyone is enamored of the project, however.

Nate Hartrich is chairman of the Morningside Home Owners Association, which represents residents in the neighborhood to the north of the property. Members for years have objected to further development at the site. Hartrich emphasized he's not objecting to the idea of Roswell Park expanding its oncology services in Amherst but, instead, to the proposed location for the new building.

"It's terrible," he said in an initial reaction to the site plan. "We already have problems with traffic there. It doesn't fit."

Kulpa said he's willing to work to address residents' concerns over traffic from the office park cutting through their neighborhood.

Hartrich also said there's plenty of existing space in Amherst that Roswell Park could move into.

"We've get enough empty office buildings in the town," Hartrich said.

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