Buffalo's Elmwood Village had concerns about the proposed design for a daycare center in the new Elmwood Crossing development, but the plan is now moving forward.
The plan calls for a former pediatric office on Hodge Avenue to be renovated and expanded to house a new location for EduKids on the first floor. There will be an apartment on the second floor to qualify the $1.6 million project for an often-criticized gimmick tax break under the 485 program.
Under pressure, Ellicott Development and Sinatra & Company made some major changes in the design and color because citizens and city Planning Board members described it as suitable only for a development along Transit Road.
Debra Lynn Williams made the suburban connection clear to the Planning Board and is still not happy with the changes.
"It looks a little less like a suburban nursing home now and more like a better-looking suburban building, but it is still very much of a suburban building," Williams said. It is very difficult to make your case, but density is so important for this site, for our whole city, for the vibrancy of our city. There's been no real reason, other than they don't want to that, there shouldn't be a two-story building."
Peggy Moriarty said the neighborhood needs day care as designed, not as a highrise.
"You can't keep putting heights and heights and heights on a building that doesn't need to do them that way," Moriarty said. "We need to keep moving on with these projects and we have lost in the details in every single thing, with the direction of this and the direction of that. I think the people from EduKids, they run 16 operations. They know which way the driveways should be going, where people should be parking. We have to rely on them."
EduKids founder Nancy Ware said the company wants to be in the Elmwood Village.
"This is a really huge step forward," Ware said. "We try to meet all of the requests of the neighborhood and we really do need to open in September because others can open any time they want business. We need to open because we go with the school year. We need to open in September, which means we need to go for a building permit now."
With the hundreds of apartments planned for the conversion of the nearby Women & Children's Hospital site, new units planned along West Utica and in the neighborhood generally, there should be a lot of business in a building that will now look much more Elmwood Village than the suburbs.