Common Council’s “do over” gets Elmwood Crossing back on track

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–The Buffalo Common Council held a special session, Thursday, for a “do over” to get the Elmwood Crossing project—redevelopment of the former Women and Children’s Hospital—back on track.

During its regular session on Tuesday, city lawmakers left out important amendments needed to receive state breaks for an affordable housing component of the project, in addition to other conditions councilmembers had previously approved.

A lot of community input has gone into Elmwood Crossing project, and the amendments had to be approved in time to meet the deadline for those tax breaks, which is Friday, so lawmakers set up the special session Thursday.

Niagara District Councilman David Rivera said the urgency was needed because the relocation of the former hospital has been a drag on Elmwood Village.

“The people that live adjacent on Hodge, on Bryant, on Utica have to live in the shadows of these big old buildings where nothing is happening.”

One particular requirement of the project is affordable housing sponsored by People, Incorporated, which was left out Tuesday. People, Inc. is applying for state tax credits that are necessary for the project.

A neighborhood group called People United to Save the Elmwood Village has objections to the overall project, and their attorney, Stephanie Adams, said the homeowners feel neglected by the process.

“What my clients have been asking, is for the powers that be to impose conditions that make sure that property that has been there for over 100 years for the benefit of the public continues to have a public benefit.”

But even after the last minute approvals, Rivera said the neighbors will have another chance to voice their objections when the project goes before the city’s Planning Board.

“At that point we can engage the community, in terms of what it is going to look like, the design. We can still have another bite at the apple.”

Amy Nagy, Director of Development for Sinatra and Company Real Estate, which is the co-developer of Elmwood Crossing with Ellicott Development Company said the “do over” has provided a “new and improved” version.

“We know that things like the affordable housing component that we have long said would be a part of this, it does not just benefit the immediate neighborhood, it makes the project better.”

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