Developers eye new zoning designation for former hospital property

Oct 24, 2019

New renderings for redevelopment of Buffalo’s former Women & Children’s Hospital were up for review at a community forum Wednesday night. The project, dubbed Elmwood Crossing, would be mixed-use with condos, townhomes, a boutique hotel and an urban-style grocery store.

The project is being undertaken in a partnership between Sinatra and Company Real Estate and Ellicott Development. The plans cover three different land plots once part of the vacant hospital property. Tom Fox, director of development for Ellicott, said that this can bring challenges when it comes to zoning laws, and that’s why his company is lobbying Buffalo’s common council for a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, designation.

“It allows us to streamline the process, allows the development work to happen quicker. Because now we don’t have to peel off each individual project at a zoning level and go through and request separate variances,” Fox said of the waiver-like nature of a PUD. “In layman’s terms what it allows us to do is take this former hospital that’s been sitting vacant for years, and see it turn over quicker towards the concepts we have been presenting to the public, and we’ll continue to work on those details.”

The three plots that make up Elmwood Crossing are currently zoned in three different categories, each with their own restrictions. Developers say that this can stall the mixed-use nature of the project, including adding a daycare and new bright facade lighting, but some Elmwood Village residents like Undine Bistany feel that the latter belongs elsewhere anyway.

“That’s for downtown. I don’t want to look out my window and see LZ-3 lighting. It’s not what I live here for,” said Bistany. “I live here because Nardin School is close by, my granddaughter can walk to the library, she can walk to dance class. It’s a neighborhood.”

Other residents, such as Tom Halloran, believe that the project proposed by Sinatra Company and Ellicott Development just might be what the historic Elmwood Village needs to be rejuvenated.

“I know that there are a lot of residents not happy about it on account of the new green code, which I think is absolutely atrocious,” said Halloran. “This is a city. Elmwood Avenue needs a huge uplifting and I hope it continues. There are just so many buildings on Elmwood Avenue that have been let go for years.”

Developers hope to have Elmwood Crossing fully completed by 2023.