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Buffalo Planning Board moves 3 major projects to next stage

A rendering of Niagara Studio once complete
Architectural Resources
Great Point Media
A rendering of the new movie studio planned for Niagara Street.

The Buffalo Planning Board came back from its vacation for less than an hour Monday and moved three major development projects along: a new movie studio, renovation and expansion of an older apartment complex and a new way to handle some older buildings in the Elmwood Village.

The movie studio, planned for Niagara Street, already had some variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals, but needed Planning Board approval for adding the planning second phase to the first phase to meet perceived entertainment production needs.

"Two of them had to do with transparency on the West Ferry elevation and the third had to do with the additional production lot, located on the east side of the studio," said Architect Kevin Murrett. "So with that, we are back in front of the board, seeking your favorable approval of the major site plan application in front of you."

The board also approved the plan to rehab and expand McCarley Gardens, on the edge of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The project, sponsored by St. John Baptist Church, will rehab 135 units and add 15.

A rendering of McCarley Gardens once complete
BFC Partners
Carmina Wood Morris
A rendering of McCarley Gardens, planned for 818 Michigan Ave., once complete.

"We have the variances that were necessary to effectuate the design as proposed to the Planning Board," said lawyer Marc Romanowski. "Therefore, there've been no changes, whatsoever, to the plans that we presented to the Planning Board for this project."

Finally, the board approved developer Douglas Jemal's plan for a project at Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway. Architect Steven Carmina said there have been some design changes and esthetic changes.

"We are simply trying to go with a wider material at the top, a little less heavy," said Carmina. "Obviously, the masonry you're going to feel and experience much differently than metal."

Jemal's $15 million project will put a new structure behind existing buildings, eventually producing 33 apartments and six retail storefronts. An earlier different developer design had called for major demolition and replacement with large new mixed-use complexes along two blocks of Elmwood.

A rendering of the final mixed-use project planned for Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway
Carmina Wood Morris
Antunovich Associates
A rendering of the $15 million project planned for Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway by Douglas Development.

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.