The region's largest affordable housing provider is hoping to obtain state financing for its $33 million redevelopment of the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital homeopathic buildings into an 80-unit multifamily apartment complex after gaining city approval of the plan.
Belmont Housing Resources for WNY plans to redevelop the three northernmost buildings that still remain from the former hospital, which was closed a decade ago and acquired by TM Montante Development.
The nonprofit developer will renovate the 103,593-square-foot buildings at 630 Linwood Ave., adding apartments on five floors while restoring its exterior under historic preservation standards.
The buildings – technically the east, north and west wings – are sandwiched between Linwood and Lafayette avenues and the new Lafayette Connector constructed next to the new Canterbury Woods project.
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Plans call for 10 studio apartments, 39 one-bedroom units, three two-bedroom apartments and eight three-bedroom units in the three buildings, ranging in size from 507 to 1,020 square feet each. The first two floors will have 17 apartments each, while the second and third floors have 20 each, and the fourth floor will have just six. Twelve will be designated for people with mobility and hearing or vision impairments.
"It’s a really exciting opportunity to provide for integrated, affordable, family housing," said Brad Packard, director of housing development for Belmont. "It really speaks right to the city’s mission of creating economically diverse neighborhoods, and given the current environment we find ourselves in with rising inflation and an extremely challenging housing market, this is a timely endeavor."
The apartments will feature "quality finishes, contemporary floorplans and common area amenities," according to a presentation by Belmont - including a community room with a kitchen, a fitness center, computer and laundry rooms, storage space and a central courtyard with a playground, walking paths and multiple seating areas for residents. The courtyard will be accessible through the buildings or an access-controlled exterior gate.
The existing hallway corridors, terrazzo flooring and historic main entry from Lafayette will be maintained and preserved. On the exterior, Belmont will clean, repair and repoint the masonry facade as needed, replace windows, and remove ivy, vines and rust. Eight handicap-accessible parallel parking spaces will be provided on site, while other parking will be available through the adjacent Lancaster Square Parking Garage that Montante owns.
A new glass entry vestibule adjacent to a new elevator will also be constructed on the northwest corner - where the structures used to connect to the demolished portion of the former hospital - to provide at-grade accessible entry, with new fiber cement paneling installed above that to cover the gap that was left where previously attached buildings were already demolished. Part of the southwest corner also will be demolished for exterior courtyard access.
"Belmont’s a great partner, and their vision for the project is something we’re really excited about," said TM Montante President Christian Campos. "Our goal was to do an overall project that connects the neighborhoods and brings a diversity of housing."
The city has granted a zoning variance and site plan approval, and Belmont is seeking an affordable housing property-tax break from Erie County. Belmont will apply this month for HOME funds from the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, which it hopes to receive within 60 days.
If successful, it will then apply by yearend for low-income housing tax credits from New York State Homes and Community Renewal and a permanent loan from the state Housing Trust Fund Corp. Those decisions would be made by March or April of next year, with the 16-month construction project by Montante Construction beginning by late fall or winter of 2023.
The site is part of a 2.04-acre parcel that will be split, with Belmont eventually acquiring the 1.21 acres that includes the northern buildings. Montante will keep the 70,000-square-foot southern buildings, which it will turn into market-rate housing on four floors, with 10,000 square feet of commercial and retail or food-service space on the first two levels, adjacent to the central square.
Tentative plans call for over 70 apartments and a 9,000-square-foot addition. Montante said the firm expects to bring its final proposal to the city Planning Board in September, and to start construction at the same time as Belmont. The two projects will be either structurally separated through demolition or closed off to keep them separate.
"We’re moving forward with the design on our project," Campos said. "We’ve been already doing a bit of community outreach related to planning for that project."
The dual projects are the latest steps in the larger conversion of the 6.7-acre former hospital campus into the new Lancaster Square mixed-use community, with over 936,000 square feet of redeveloped and newly built residential, office and retail space. Led by Montante, the project - designated as a "planned-unit development" - envisioned more than 500 residential units, senior housing, office space, a small urban grocery store and a fitness center.
Since starting work in 2014, Montante prepared the site for redevelopment, demolished the main hospital tower, remediated the remaining structures and the soil, installed new roads and infrastructure, sold parcels to Canterbury Woods and People Inc. for development of market-rate and affordable senior housing, purchased and renovated the parking ramp, and converted an adjacent building at 1275 Delaware Ave. to market-rate housing.