Originally published by Buffalo Business First on May 9, 2017
By: James Fink
When even a group that generally opposes projects in the Delaware District and Elmwood Village support a development, chances of it becoming a reality grow exponentially.
That’s exactly what happened Monday when plans by TM Montante Development and Rochester’s Morgan Development formally presented the Buffalo Planning Board with its proposed six-story, mixed-use building that will help anchor the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle property.
A series of meetings between the development team and neighboring block club groups and other interests played a significant role in the $13.5 million project clearing the planning board. A companion approval from the Buffalo Common Council, which is expected to come on May 16, will clear the way for construction to start — likely this this summer.
Designed by Philadelphia-based BLTa, the building has drawn praise from many of the block clubs and residents. It is the firm’s first Buffalo project.
“The community engagement was very proactive,” said Gretchen Cercone, Lancaster Avenue Block Club president. “It is a much better design than we’ve seen lately with other projects. We consider this a modern take on Delaware Avenue.”
The building is Montante’s first on the former hospital property and because of its location at the northeast corner of Delaware Avenue and soon-to-be-christened Lancaster Avenue extension, it will serve as a development gateway into the 6.7-acre parcel.
Canterbury Woods 58-unit senior housing project, being developed separately from Montante’s buildings, is already under construction and expected to open this fall.
“We designed this to be a project the community could get behind even before it got to the planning board,” said Byron DeLuke, TM Montante vice president. “We are very comfortable with putting this site plan forward.”
Nate Sunderhaus, a BLTa principal, said the curved brick building was designed to fit in with the Delaware District architecture.
“It was important to keep in scale with the neighborhood,” Sunderhaus said. “We want this to be a destination for the city and destination for the neighborhood.”
Approximately 70 percent of the units will be one-bedroom apartments and the remaining 30 percent will be two-bedroom units.
TM Montante Development has dubbed the building Lancaster Square at Gates Circle, partially because the building will overlook the Lancaster Square, a public gathering location within the former hospital property.
Lancaster Square at Gates Circle is the first of several buildings proposed for the former hospital property, which is located at one of Buffalo’s most visible intersections where Delaware Avenue, Gates Circle and Lafayette meet.
TM Montante Development will be building, over a period of years, both residential and commercial structures including a possible Tops Friendly Market. Negotiations with both Tops continue.
Between TM Montante and Canterbury Woods respective investments, more than $150 million will be spent turning the land into a mixed-use community. With its price tag, the project is one the largest in Buffalo’s economic development pipeline.
For the immediate future, TM Montante Development is focusing on the Lancaster Square at Gates Circle building.
“It speaks to the neighborhood and the vibrancy we want to create,” Sunderhaus said.