BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Ever since Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital closed its doors in March and moved to its new facility, many have been wondering what will happen to the vacant building left behind.
Kaleida Health narrowed down redevelopment offers for Gates Circle Hospital to two competing plans. Would the old hospital be converted to condos, apartments, a hotel, and retail space? Or turned into to a teaching facility for the medical care of animals?
On Tuesday, the health care provider announced a new veterinary medical school, one of the few in the country, will take over the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital. The winning $65 million bid was offered by Chason Affinity Group, whose president Mark Chason says the idea has been incubating for eight years after he and his wife were walking their dogs nearby.
Chason said, "One of the dogs pulled me, and pulled me in the direction of the hospital. And I looked up and I saw the hospital and the dog, and the hospital and the dog, and I said, 'Maybe this can happen!' It's a true story. Really!"
Supporters of the project, such as Oregon attorney and consultant Mark Cushing, point out, there are only 27 veterinary colleges in the entire country.
"Veterinary schools are very expensive. The capital costs are prohibitive. The American population almost doubled, and it added one more vet school in a 25-year time period. The pet population exploded, we added one more vet school," Cushing said.
Developers also point out, a new veterinary school builds on western New York strengths.
Developer Howard Zemsky noted, "And one of our great strengths is the number of colleges and universities we have."
Lt. Governor Robert Duffy added, "It fills a great void. This is a lot of people coming together, putting the reuse back into this building, creating the opportunity for a veterinary school, which I think is outstanding."
Developers have not come up with a firm timetable for making the conversion.
Kaleida is actually paying Chason Affinity a million dollars as an incentive to take the empty building off their hands.
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