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Protest of new Elmwood Village development expected

Ciminelli Real Estate

With the Buffalo Preservation Board meeting Thursday to listen to a request for massive demolitions in the Elmwood and Bidwell area, opponents are demonstrating Wednesday against the plan.

Ciminelli Real Estate has spent nearly $8 million to buy a series of buildings around Elmwood, Potomac and Ashland Avenues to build a $40 million array of 100 condos, apartments, retail storefronts and a three-story parking structure on the demolished property. The plan announced in November for what will be called Arbor + Reverie has been tinkered with.

Paperwork tells the Preservation Board the plan is to ask the Zoning Board for a variance on the new Green Code to allow four-story buildings when most of the city in the new plan is limited to three. Elmwood Village Working Group chair Martin Littlefield says the variance will be fought.

"It's clear that the building should be three stories and of course every time you have this incremental increase it creates, the next developer will want five stories," Littlefield said. "So, especially at the initial part of the Green Code, we're going to be vigorous in asking that the Green Code intent and purpose be fully enforced."

This is likely to be the first real test of the Green Code, even before it takes effect at the end of February. That's why State Assemblymember Sean Ryan has called a protest rally for 10 a.m. Wednesday morning at Elmwood and Bidwell to oppose the demolitions.

Ciminelli wants the approval quickly enough to do the demolitions and start construction this year. Ciminelli Vice President and Principal Dennis Penman says much of the history will remain visible in the process.

"It's really what I would call a surgical demolition around the existing historical infrastructure, which are the facades on Elmwood which we are working around to preserve the facades on Elmwood and on Potomac and what people commonly refer to as the Sunday Skate Building," said Penman. "So what we would be doing is filing to take down the structures."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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