City Planning Board looks at potential hot spots and added parking, waits on Canterbury Woods

Dec 1, 2015

Monday night’s meeting of the Planning Board offered an opportunity for presentation and public comment on developments that could influence new hotspots for living in the City of Buffalo, as well as parking that will be much needed in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. As far as the latest development on the Canterbury Woods senior citizens residence project goes, a public update is still in the works.

Where will Buffalo’s next “coolest place to live” be?

In the heart of North Buffalo’s on Hertel Avenue sits Saint Margaret’s elementary school, which has been vacant since 2012 due to low enrollment. Iskalo Development hopes to turn the site into a modern mixed use space with 23 apartments and commercial storefronts facing the Hertel strip. Marc Romanowski of Hopkins Sorgi and Romanowski is counsel to Iskalo Development, and described the project as a “nice reuse of the existing structure.”

Marc Romanowski, representing Iskalo Development, presents the plan for the reuse of Saint Margaret's elementary school on Hertel Avenue as a mixed use space.
Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News

“We’ve seen that done elsewhere in the city. Not quite as much along Hertel Avenue,” said Romanowski. “And my client, I know, feels that there’s a market for residential development that’s lacking along Hertel and this was a great opportunity to do that.”

Romanowski said neighbors in the Hertel area are supportive of the project and its market-rate housing, which he said will likely draw professionals and young families.

A similar reuse is being planned by Sinatra and Company Real Estate for the former American Household and Storage warehouse on Main Street off Michigan Avenue. With a future rooftop garden and close proximity to Buffalo’s medical campuses, the warehouse re-vamp has a more specific audience in mind.

“We had envisioned that people who work there will use public transportation and ride their bicycles,” explained Jason Sokolowski, the project’s architect from Watts Architecture and Engineering. “It’s sort of for a younger target audience that I think would be much more in tune with growing vegetables and growing food and having somewhere to do that.”

Jason Sokolowski & Matt Connors present Sinatra and Company Real Estate's plan for the redesign of the American Household and Storage warehouse into a mixed use space.
Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News

Sinatra and Company Real Estate’s Vice President of Development Matt Connors described the space as “workforce housing” for the fast-growing medical community, with lease rates starting at $900 per month that will appeal to medical workers as well as doctors.

Either place you look, it’s becoming apparent that the title of “coolest place to live” could soon be up for grabs.

Doubling parking at BNMC by getting rid of some first

Romanowski and representatives from the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus also proposed doubling the size of a parking ramp in the heart of the medical corridor.

After demolishing the existing “Ellicott-Goodrich” parking garage which offers 900 parking spots, BNMC will replace it with a structure with double the capacity.

Romanowski said the new structure will be designed with medical patients in mind.

“This is really patient driven for Buffalo General and for Gates Vascular. The existing garage does not serve patients well. So by making these changes and bringing it up to code, it’s going to be a much better parking structure for patients.”

The current Ellicott-Goodrich parking garage
Credit Google Maps

  The new structure will be compliant with the regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act – something the current ramp is lacking. It will also serve the needs of the future children’s hospital and University at Buffalo medical school set to open within the next 18 months.

Romanowski said during the demolition and rebuild, users of the current parking structure will be directed towards the ramp at Main and High Streets, as well as smaller private lots BNMC has made arrangements with.

Planning Board waiting patiently for Canterbury Woods redesign

Architects and designers with Iskalo Development continue to make changes to the proposed Canterbury Woods senior facility at Gates Circle. Romanowski said comments from displeased area residents over aesthetics and architectural concerns are being addressed.

Planning Board Vice Chair Cynthia Schwartz said the board looks forward to seeing the new changes.

“I know that they have listened to what people were saying. Obviously some people will be very pleased with changes, some people will not. That’s the nature of architecture. But I believe we’re going to see something that does some modification of the façade to respond to some of what they were hearing from the public,” said Schwartz.

The issue was tabled during Monday night’s meeting. Romaowski said a presentation of the latest design may be possible for the next meeting on December 14.