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No resolution on downtown parking issue for 201 Ellicott

Cannon Design
Rendering of the supermarket planned for 201 Ellicott St.

The fight over parking for the proposed major affordable housing in the heart of downtown Buffalo continued Monday before the city Planning Board.

The proposed affordable housing project at 201 Ellicott St. received far less opposition at the city Planning Board than it did last week before the Zoning Board of Appeals. The two boards have different powers and situations.

The Zoning Board was asked for a large array of zoning variances. The Planning Board can't approve the plan until, and if, the Zoning Board approves the variances. Still, much of the public hearing revolved around the continuing struggle over parking, since there is little on site.

As Vice President of Leasing, Mark Manning spoke for Main Place-Liberty Group.

"We are opposed to any development of the site without erecting structured parking on it<" said Manning. The parking study that they cited mentioned that they found 580 monthly parking spaces in the area and those are all east."

When this project was to be luxury housing, it included underground parking. Now, it is going to be a mobility hub, including bicycles and a bike repair shop as well as access to Metro Bus, Metro Rail and ride-sharing services. There is parking within a 10-minute walk, but there lies the fight.

Wendel Associate Prinicpal Michael Leydecker, whose firm is doing the engineering and survey, said there is enough parking.

"There is sufficient parking within a 10-minute walk of the existing facility to accomodate the displaced parking," Leydecker said. "The site itself will need approximately 91 spaces. That's associated with the tenancy and also the fresh market. The fresh market parking will be accomodated on site."

Braymiller Market will get the only 29 parking spaces on site for its retail and wholesale business.

The site itself has 370 parking spaces, which would be lost with Ciminelli Real Estate's plan. To meet Americans With Disabilities Act requirements for the 201 apartments, the development does have to provide some parking and they would be provided nearby, especially in the Adam Ramp on Washington Street.

Ciminelli's Vice President of Development and Planning Denise Juron-Borgese said the project will tie together the community.

"The highest and best use of what is currently a surface parking lot," Juron-Borgese said. "The report also described a lack of East-West connections. This project will serve as a connector between East Side neighborhoods and the Central Business District. This study stated a lack of amenities, such as food access, and a need to encourage services. 201 Ellicott will bring food access to an underserved community."

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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