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Zoning changes recommended for former Children's Hospital site

MIke Desmond
Sinatra Development Director Amy Nagy goes over the project for city Planning Board members.

The planning process for developers who are turning the former Women & Children's Hospital site into a small Elmwood Crossing neighborhood requires hundreds of pages of probably expensive data collection and management, but on Monday the $120 million project moved closer to construction on the main complex.

The city Planning Board recommended to the Common Council approval of a series of zoning changes and creation of a planned unit development, or PUD.

The joint venture of Sinatra & Company and Ellicott Development has started on a piece of the site, a mixed-use building at Bryant Street and Elmwood Avenue that wasn't really part of the hospital.

Credit Sinatra and Company / Ellicott Development
Site plan for Elmwood Crossing neighborhood.

Sinatra Development Director Amy Nagy said approval of a PUD will let the project move toward summer construction of townhouses along West Utica Street and get close to the food store marketplace also planned along Utica. The city and the developers are still negotiating over buying an adjacent parking ramp.

Nagy said the partners want work to start.

"It's a big site for us to carry with no revenue, so we are very anxious to get the process moving along," Nagy said. "Again, a dormant site draws things in a neighborhood that people typically don't like. So we want to see some activity on that site."

There have been concerns, including claims the sewer system can't handle the project.

"A 24/7 hospital running there," she said. "So if you take into account the sewer demands and compare it with what we're proposing, it's a less active site in many ways."

Nagy said the plan is to have the entire $120 million project finished by 2023. That includes more than 220 apartments, 27 condos, 22 townhouses, retail and commercial space and a day care center.

The developers are negotiating with People Inc. for that agency to take over one of the buildings along Hodge Avenue for 44-units of affordable senior housing. Financing is still being put together. There will be other affordable housing units, as well.

Credit Sinatra and Company / Ellicott Development
Components Plan for the Elmwood Crossing neighborhood.

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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