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Planned Elmwood/Forest project reduced to four floors

There is a new version of a proposed development at Forest and Elmwood avenues, with developer Chason Affinity cutting its proposal substantially to deal with community anger and Buffalo's new Green Code rules.

That corner, with its aging and worn buildings, has been the subject of development proposals for more than 30 years. To meet community opposition and get closer to Buffalo's Green Code, this latest plan calls for four stories, instead of five, with the top floor set way back from Elmwood, fewer apartments and more use of traditional materials like brick and stone.

Former Elmwood Village Working Group Chairman Martin Littlefield said the developer has worked with neighbors.

"Chason has made really strong, good faith efforts with the community," Littlefield said. "They started out maybe rough, 7-10 years ago, but I know many people in the community have grown to respect their efforts and I think that has to be considered along with whether what they are now proposing fits into the character of the community."

Littlefield said he needs to look at the actual plan, since it was filed with the city Planning Board late Monday, so late that almost no one has seen it.

"I haven't seen it. I don't know what it looks like," he said. "I don't think I could comment any other than to emphasize the fact Chason has labored under an old law a long time and has tried to accommodate the community."

Littlefield said Ciminelli Real Estate has not made the same attempt to work with the community on proposals up Elmwood near Potomac, which also don't meet Green Code rules.

"I don't think it's us forcing a change. It's what the Green Code says and it allows for variances to be considered," Littlefield said. "I think the most important thing is that Ciminelli went ahead with their project after knowing what the Green Code was going to consist of and they still came in with five stories and then they met an extreme community resistance."

That is really the key issue, building height. The Green Code calls for no more than three stories in the Elmwood Village.

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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