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TM Montante taking baby steps toward Gates Circle cleanup

Mike Desmond
Construction debris at the Gates Circle site on March 26.

A new way to finance TM Montante's Gates Circle development plans moved a step closer to fruition Tuesday as the Common Council Legislation Committee sent a proposal to the full Council, without recommendation.

Montante admits the company can't pay for its plans for the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital site, blaming a connection with Rochester development company Morgan Management, which was supposed to help pay for the project, but instead is paying defense lawyers against federal fraud charges.

Credit TM Montante
Development site area, as shown when project approved in May 2017.

The replacement plan involves creating a special district that includes Gates Circle, surrounding streets and a city parking ramp to meet a requirement for 60 percent government ownership. The parking garage is key, since Montante's development plans require hundreds of additional parking spaces.

Council President Darius Pridgen is using the ramp as a tool to get the construction site cleaned up, particularly a debris pile.

"If it is not cleaned off by June 15, this Council - and it will be stated for the record purchase of the garage, so I wanted to answer that right away - there will be, at least I and I would trust my colleagues, will not vote for the sale of the garage without that being there," Pridgen said.

Environmental Lawyer Arthur Giacalone said establishing the area around Gates Circle as blighted isn't what a law intended.

"It's stretching and it's ignoring completely the actual purpose of the statute and we have to be a city of laws," Giacalone said. "We have to be a city that says this law intended certain things to happen in certain circumstances and what we have here is the absolute opposite of the intent."

Credit TM Montante
A rendering of the what would be the new Lancaster Square development, at the time of approval in May 2017.

Residents of Gates Circle's Canterbury Woods have been scathing in their attack on Montante for not completing anything on the site and leaving debris all over. Canterbury is one of two completed projects on the former hospital site, both built on land Montante sold in the upscale city neighborhood. There also are several units in an apartment building across Gates Circle for sale, with the most expensive listed for $885,000.

Approving creation of the new district, to be called the Linwood Lafayette Urban Development Action Area, would open up tax breaks and development aids for Montante - although, any project would have to come before the Council for approval.

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