New Lancaster Square development at Gates Circle gets go-ahead

May 9, 2017

The Buffalo Planning Board Monday cleared the way for construction of another building on the former site of the old Millard Fillmore Hospital at Gates Circle.

What developers are calling Lancaster Square will go on the Delaware Avenue property and on an extension of Lancaster Avenue built across the project to improve its access. T.M. Montante President Chris Campos said the new building will cost $13 million for its mix of 60 apartment units and large first-floor retail space to open in the summer of next year.

It is located across the street from the Canterbury Woods project nearing completion on the site. Campos said a major asset of the site is a city parking ramp, which developers are negotiating to buy.

"The parking a garage is a very important aspect of the project. It allows us to do so many things that we're looking to do with this project," he said. "Vibrant, mixed-use, urban, building up to the lot lines, we can do that because we have a parking garage that can accommodate parking for residential, commercial and retail uses."

Campos said construction work on the site, including extending Lafayette and Lancaster onto the project land and adding some utilities, has cost $14 million.

Careful meetings with a variety of community groups and lots of information sharing about what's going on has fractured what was very united community opposition to much of the project. Campos says that public information work will continue.

Based upon renderings, a frequent critic, Daniel Sack, still criticized the design.

"This site become totally unbalanced with the building to the right of Canterbury Woods," he said. "The architect talked about geometry and how important that was. Apparently it was important to the architect of Canterbury Woods. Though I'm not an enthusiast of the building itself, they made a great effort for symmetry and this building throws that symmetry off entirely."

Gretchen Cercone also was a vocal opponent of development plans for the site. However, Cercone has changed her views.

"The second reason why there has not been broad-based community backlash surrounding this project is that it's actually a much better design than what we have been seeing recently," she said. "The building incorporates quality materials and architectural elements that make it look like a modern take on a Delaware Avenue building and not a suburban medical office on steroids or some of the other projects that we have seen."

Cercone specifically cited developer work with community groups as a reason for changing, as the plans changed.