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Residents review Ryan's alternative Elmwood vision

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Sean Ryan

Another large crowd turned out last night in Buffalo Seminary for a discussion of development at Elmwood and Forest.  They were there to see Assemblyman Sean Ryan's his alternative to Chason Affinity's plan for the highly visible corner.

Ryan has been pushing a design developed by architect Benjamin Spitler. It would use the current buildings, rather than demolish them, which is part of the Chason Affinity plan.

"I think they are far from requiring demolition," said Andrea Szalanski, who attended last night's meeting.

"His idea (developer Mark Chason's) from the beginning was to knock them down and I think their status has been in doubt from ever since, so nobody has wanted to put money into them."

Many have also objected to the scale of the plan, a five-story complex that would feature residential and retail space.

Mark Chason was on hand to offer perspective on his company's plans.

"We're the most-advanced studied and we have the most support of any proposal that's ever gone before. So, we're hoping to move forward," said Chason, adding that his plan has support in writing from residents in that neighborhood.

"Our project is in processing, which it's been in. And, we're just moving forward one step at a time with planning."

The Elmwood Village neighborhood has traditionally been among the most-desirable places to live in the city of Buffalo. As the city's economy continues to rebound, some see increased business opportunities in a neighborhood where  many residents are passionately defending the character of their surroundings. 

"I felt that the design the Chason Affinity people was proposing was a bit too massive, too much one solid piece, to fit well into the surrounding neighborhood," said Marcy Ludwig, offering a perspective shared by many at last night's meeting. 

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.