Looking ahead to reuse of Children's Hospital building

Sep 17, 2015

Public input will be a key part of the Request for Proposal process in the redevelopment of Women  & Children's Hospital in the Elmwood Village. State Assemblyman Sean Ryan of Buffalo and Kaleida Health officials outlined details of an RFP recently issued seeking a developer. WBFO's Eileen Buckley says the site most likely will be redeveloped into residential and retail space.

Outside Women & Children's Hospital off Hodge Street entrance.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"Likely commercial toward the Elmwood side. A little quieter uses, maybe residential toward the back," said Angela Keppel, Assistant Director of the Elmwood Village Association.  The organization has played a big role in developing the RFP that is well ahead the final closing of Children's at Elmwood and Bryant. 

Angela Keppel, Assistant Director of the Elmwood Village Association.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

A brand new Women's and Children's Hospital is being built at the Buffalo Niagara Medical  Campus and will move in 2017.  But it is unlike the public outcry that occurred more than a decade ago to move the hospital.

"We really are headed toward the new Buffalo and whereas it would have been a fear, even five years ago,  that oh gosh there's going to be a vacant hole in our neighborhood. Now it's more wow we can invite all the developers to come in and maybe we will get something really cool," said Keppel. 

The Association, Kaleida and Assemblyman Ryan want to make sure the redevelopment sit coordinates with the neighborhood. 

"So we want to make sure we have a highly capitalized, highly sensitive and a highly motivated developer to make sure we move this project," stated Ryan. "Our goal here is to have construction starting simultaneous with Children's moving." 
 
Peggy Moriarty has lived just seven houses from Children's for the past 40-years.

Resident Peggy Moriarty has lived just seven houses from Children's for the past 40-years.She appeared at the news briefing with her grandson.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"We're concerned about the quality of the buildings, the look of the buildings that blend in with the neighborhood," said Moriarty.

Moriarty said she would like to see a retirement community at the hospital site.

"Would like to see a Fox Run or Canterbury Woods here," said Moriarty. 

The Elmwood Village would like the public parking ramp to remain providing much needed parking in the the Elmwood Stripe. 

This is the third reuse project for Kaleida. Spokesman Mike Hughes said they have learned lessons from shuttering Deaconess and Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital several years ago.

"I think the biggest lesson here for us is start earlier," said Hughes. "Start earlier, get as much community engagement going as possibly early on."

Outside of Children's Hospital.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Under the RFP, the potential developer will receive extra points if they can provide proof of up-front equity to conduct the project. 

The future developer will also be held accountable to strict time lines if they fail and would held accountable for damages. 

"If the developer wins the RFP for this they're going to be fully expected to adhere to timelines and there will be liquidated damages if you do not meet the timelines," said Ryan.