Originally published by The Buffalo News on March 13, 2018
By: Jonathan Epstein
TM Montante Development and Morgan Communities are hoping to get started within the year on a proposal to build a six-story apartment building at Gates Circle, now that the city Planning Board has renewed its approval of the $15 million project.
The developers intend to erect a six-story building at 1299 Delaware Ave., on part of the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital property. Located at the northeast corner of Lancaster Avenue, the 60,000-square-foot building would include 59 apartments and 6,000 square feet of commercial space, divided into three storefronts.
The 1299 Delaware building was originally approved by the city last May. But the developers say they can’t finalize the financing on it until they nail down some other details, including their $1.7 million purchase of the existing city-owned parking ramp, as well as a possible affordable housing component of the new building.
With its city approval renewed for another year, though, “we’re planning to certainly start within that timeframe,” said Montante President Christian Campos.
The new building would be part of the much larger Lancaster Square at Gates Circle redevelopment, which Montante and Morgan are undertaking to transform the 6.7-acre vacant former hospital site into a new mixed-use neighborhood. Plans for the $150 million multiyear redevelopment call for more than 500 condominiums, townhouses and apartments, plus an urban grocery, a fitness center, additional ground-floor retail space and potential office space.
Already, Canterbury Woods at Gates Circle has opened, with 53 independent-living and five assisted-living apartments, while People Inc. has started work on a three-story senior-housing facility with 37 units at 637 Linwood Ave.
Those are separate from the Montante and Morgan initiative, although Campos cited both as evidence of success in the past year, along with the acquisition of another property at 1275 Delaware Ave. and the signing of a contract for the parking ramp.
“We’ve made a lot of progress in that time, and we look forward to moving it forward this year,” he added.
Campos said a team from Rochester-based Morgan Communities – led by vice president Kevin Morgan, the nephew of founder and CEO Robert C. Morgan – continues to actively work with Montante officials on the Gates Circle project.
“We’ve always been excited to work with the Morgans, because they brought a lot of experience working on urban development projects,” Campos said.
The Buffalo News has previously reported that multiple sources have said the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Buffalo are investigating how companies controlled by Morgan have financed the purchase of other apartment complexes in Buffalo.
Campos declined to comment on the investigation, but said “we remain committed to working with them.”