Buffalo Beat: Gates Circle opens up for construction

buffalo_skyline_font1 By Jesse Prieto
News Editor

With a thundering boom, the shell of Buffalo’s historical Millard Fillmore Suburban Gates Circle Hospital came crashing to the ground. 600 pounds of explosives later the city watched as developers did away with what remained of the 140-year old hospital, epitomizing the “Out with the old and in with the new” attitude that’s been embraced by the Buffalo community. Members of the business and development community look to make this freshly vacant 6.7-acre lot a redeveloped economic base for new business. In other words, with the mentality of the Buffalo Renaissance on everyone’s mind, the dust and traffic disruptions were not seen as a hassle, but rather hailed as a mark of progress.

“We’re going to open up the site and bring together residents from adjacent neighborhoods, all while creating attractive new public spaces,” said TM Montante Development President Christian Campos. “This is a critical and exciting milestone in the site’s physical transformation into a vibrant mixed-use urban district.”

Back in 2005, the Berger Commission came to the conclusion that the State Health Care system no longer needed 189-bed hospital. By 2008, Millard Fillmore Suburban was but one of  “approximately one-fourth of all of the hospitals in the state [were] reconfigured.” Some closed, some merged, and others downsized, eliminated excess beds, and redirected services. Since then the monstrous campus has lay vacant, waiting for a stronger economy to redefine its use.

When all has been said and done, TM Montante Development company will have sunk $150 million into the renovation, making it the largest private sector development project in Western New York.

Recently company spokesman Byron DeLuke stated that construction will be completed over a seven-year timetable, producing eight new buildings, offering 963,000 square foot in space. Not all blueprints have been finalized, partly because of the future leasees have yet to be established and partly due to bureaucratic clearance from the city’s zoning board.

Because 3 Gates Circle neighbors the Elmwood Village area to the west and in close proximity to the blossoming medical corridor, a large portion is expected to become housing. Though the proprietor is still unknown, the developer has made it clear that approximately 500 residential apartments will be made available.  

In addition, several business are already planning on moving in as as soon as construction has been completed. Canterbury Woods, which specializes in senior home and assisted living, plans to open up a new, six-story building for residents 62 years of age and up. Their building is currently slated to be the first completed, and will be comprised of 53 independant apartments as well as a five-unit assisted-living complex.

There has also been mention of a new YMCA branch opening as well. Buddy Campbell, Jr. President and CEO was quoted by Buffalo Rising saying “as we have seen across our organization and throughout the country, there is greater thirst for a diversity of health, wellness and social programming that a robust YMCA can provide. We serve more than 100,000 people annually here in Western New York. We are interested in exploring how we can potentially expand and fulfill our mission of community service as part of TM Montante Development’s vision for Gates Circle.”

Following the lead of Canalside’s development, and the stability of Elmwood  Village and Allen Town, Gates Circle shows promise to be the next large scale pillar supporting the growth and prosperity of Buffalo as a whole. Seven years is ambisous, and any claiming that it’s all downhill from here would be gravely mistaken. Yet with each calculated risk and stable investment Buffalo rises one step higher.

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