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Planning Board gets first look at Canterbury Woods' Gates Circle plan

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Now that the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle hospital is a pile of rubble, project planners are moving forward with plans for the first piece of redevelopment on the property. On Tuesday morning, members of the Buffalo Planning Board were shown a design for a proposed future Canterbury Woods senior housing building.

The senior housing complex would feature a total 58 units, 53 of which would be independent living apartments, with the remainder designed for assisted-living tenants. The complex also calls for underground parking. Developers say there is already a waiting list of more than 100 people for the apartments.

It's expected to take about three months to clear out the rubble from the former hospital. Canterbury Woods officials hope to have their building ready for residents to move in by mid 2017.

"Based on the schedule, ideally we would be able to get Planning Board approval by the middle of November for the Canterbury Woods project," said Canterbury Woods spokesman Phil Pantano. "Our goal is to be in construction the first quarter of 2016."

Outside the meeting, a spokeswoman for neighbors expressed concerns about how the former hospital campus would be rezoned beyond the Canterbury Woods project. What worries them is the prospect of larger businesses moving into the neighborhood.

"We don't want to see a blanket zoning change to commercial that could lead to very large retail on the site," said Gretchen Cercone, representing the Lancaster Avenue Block Club. "We would like to see incremental zoning. If a building's going to be residential, zone it residential."

Larger retail outlets are currently not among the developers' plans. The site is being viewed as a home for mixed use. Cercone said if that's the case, the space should be rezoned as mixed use.

On a side note, the Planning Board was unable to take no action on agenda items, because not enough board members were in attendance. The board's rules require four to be present. Only three were there.

The board is also changing its meeting schedule. Instead of Tuesday mornings every other week, the board will now meet biweekly on Mondays at 4 p.m. The new schedule takes effect October 19.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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