Originally published by Buffalo Business First on April 18, 2017
By: James Fink
After more than two years of planning, TM Montante Development is prepping to bring its first building to the former Millard Fillmore Hospital Gates Circle campus.
TM Montante, along with its Millard Fillmore development partner, Morgan Communities, has filed paperwork with the Buffalo Planning Board for a six-story, 67,000-square-foot building at the corner of Delaware Avenue and the Lancaster Avenue extension. The board will begin its review of the $13.5 million, privately-financed building on May 8.
Construction could start this summer, said Christian Campos, TM Montante Development president.
Work will start almost as Canterbury Woods is completing construction of its $43 million, 53-unit independent senior apartment complex, also on the former hospital site, and as People Inc. begins work on its 39-unit residential unit on a former hospital surface parking lot on Linwood Avenue.
Taken together, the three projects are the first phases of a long-term, $200 million development investment on the former hospital property.
“We always viewed this as transformational from Day One,” Campos said.
The brick and glass building, designed by Philadelphia’s BLTa architecture firm, will feature first floor retail space and restaurant, and 60 apartments on its upper five floors. The apartments will range from studios to two-bedroom units.
TM Montante has worked closely with neighborhood groups on its development plans for the Millard Fillmore site. Plans call for 531 residential units, ranging from Canterbury Woods’ apartments to market-rate apartments and townhouses, to be developed at various points on a 6.7-acre parcel that sits where Delaware Avenue intersects with Gates Circle and Lafayette Avenue.
While it is expected that Tops Markets LLC will develop a 25,000-square-foot supermarket on the site, in one of the future mixed-use buildings, the YMCA of Buffalo Niagara has dropped its proposed 50,000-square-foot health center for the property. The YMCA is now considering other North Buffalo and Delaware District locations to replace its Delaware branch.
“They just decided their needs were better served elsewhere,” Campos said.
Campos said he hopes to find another health and wellness club to replace the YMCA.
“Health and wellness is a key amenity,” he said.
Development plans for the remainder of the hospital property remain a works in progress, Campos said.
The original, circa-1911 homeopathic hospital, which remains and was not imploded with the remainder of the Millard Fillmore property in 2015, will likely be renovated into a residential-anchored project, although funding for that has not yet been secured.
Two other mixed-use buildings will be developed, depending on tenant and market demands, officials said.
In all, some 166,000-square-feet of office or commercial space may be developed on the site along with 136,000-square-feet of retail space that includes the Tops supermarket.
TM Montante is still negotiating with the City of Buffalo to officially acquire the 750-space parking ramp that adjoins the property. Those talks should be completed soon, Campos said.
“We just keep moving forward,” Campos said. “We need to pay attention to the market demand and go from there.”