The enormous hole in the ground at Elmwood Avenue and Bryant Street in Buffalo is a clear sign of the start of the Elmwood Crossing project.
Most is a reuse of the former Women and Children's Hospital site, while the corner structrure is replacing parking space and a former gas station that saturated the ground with gasoline. That led to an expensive brownfield cleanup and eventual brownfield tax break.
This is an $18 million piece of the overall $120 million project and will be finished in 2021. That is well before the big project, which will not be complete until 2023.
"Elmwood and Bryant has commenced its environmental remediation, so that work started late summer," said Sinatra and Company's Amy Nagy. "There's a very large hole in the ground at this time. We anticipate that we'll still be digging out probably for the next few weeks. Hopefully complete that process and that will allow us to have actual site work begin in the first quarter of 2020."
Nagy said the overall project will not cause problems for the corner building.
"Luckily, much of the other construction will be internal to the buildings. There isn't massive demolition happening," Nagy said. "So even when we are redoing those facades on, for example, the Variety Tower, it won't be as disruptive as you might experience with a full-scale construction project."
Elmwood Crossing is a joint venture of Sinatra and Ellicott Development, which are jointly shepherding the overall plan through City Hall's development review system. Nagy said there are already some commercial tenants lined up for the space and Sinatra and partner Ellicott Development are still working on more.
There will be apartments on upstairs floors, although she wouldn't say how many. For the developers, this building will start bringing back customers to shops around the corner site, helping replace those who left when the hospital closed.
Nagy said this mixed commercial/residential building is being pushed to help the neighborhood.
"We always felt like it was important to bring that building on line, based on some of the economic conditions that were experienced by small businesses with the loss of the hospital," she said. "We feel like that it is an economic and psychological lift and that's what we always have maintained that it was important to bring that on line so people could see it and feel it."