The University at Buffalo medical school’s move downtown has inspired plans for $40 million in new rental housing.
The medical school is moving near Metro Rail’s Allen Street Station, and Legacy Development plans to construct market-rate housing on about 10 acres near the LaSalle Station, which would give students easy access to the school.
“We’re excited,” said University Council Member Bonnie E. Russell. “It’s been so empty and so vacant for so long.”
The project is still in the early phases, but the Common Council on Wednesday agreed to grant the company designated developer status for 4.7 acres of city-owned land adjacent to property Legacy already owns. The company will be able to test the soil, survey the property and develop a site plan that will be sent to the Planning Board for its approval.
Legacy expects to begin construction near the end of the third quarter of 2013, and construction will likely last between a year and 18 months, said company President Frank Chinnici.
The number of units and their rental price are still in development, Chinnici said, and noted that while students likely would be interested, the apartments won’t necessarily be marketed as student housing.
The land is on LaSalle Avenue near William Price Parkway. Some buildings will be demolished, including the home of radio station WUFO 1080-AM, which will move, as its lease is up in June, Chinnici said.
As the project progresses, Legacy will likely purchase the land from the city, said Office of Strategic Planning Executive Director Brendan R. Mehaffy.
A purchase price will be included in a Land Disposition Agreement, which will be sent to the Council for a vote.
That agreement will demand that Legacy replace and reconstruct tennis courts now on the property and maintain public access to them, as well as maintain the same amount of public parking that is currently available at the site, according to the document the Council approved on Wednesday.
Legacy is a local company that built Autumn Creek apartments off North French Road near Transit Road in Amherst.
• The Council approved a sale of low-income housing on nine scattered sites near Whitney Place and Johnson Park. The Whitney Preservation Housing Development Fund Corp., affiliated with National Foundation for Affordable Housing Solutions Inc., a Maryland company, is purchasing the properties from Buffalo Village Associates, affiliated with AIMCO, based in Denver. Council approval was necessary because the property was exempt from certain property taxes. That exemption will terminate once the sale is completed.
The new company has told the city it plans to rehabilitate the properties, maintain them as affordable housing and rent to responsible tenants.
• Council Member Christopher P. Scanlon has written a letter to Great Lakes Physician Services to discuss its contract with the city regarding treatment of injured firefighters. He’s asked a company representative to attend the Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday.
Scanlon’s letter states he has made several attempts to contact the company and if he does not get a response he will move to terminate the contract.
The Buffalo Professional Firefighters Association has appeared before the Finance Committee to discuss its concerns about medical treatment of its members.
• Council Member Joseph Golombek has written a letter to Apple, Inc. CEO Timothy D. Cook, inviting him to consider moving some production of Apple products to Buffalo. Cook said earlier this month that a line of Apple computers would be manufactured in the United States, but did not say where.
• The Council awarded a contract for $90,960 to Hohl Industrial Services, Inc., to repair the Ohio Street Lift Bridge and the Michigan Avenue Lift Bridge, after the state Department of Transportation issued “red structural flags” for both sites. The city’s Public Works Department declared the needed repairs an “emergency situation” because of the “scope, magnitude and time criteria.”
• Council members met with Corporation Counsel Timothy A. Ball in executive session to discuss the city’s agreement with the Seneca Gaming Corp.
• The appointment of Donna J. Estrich as commissioner of administration, finance, policy and urban affairs was sent to the Legislation Committee, which meets Wednesday, for further discussion.
• A request for a police camera at Shirley Avenue and Orleans Street from a block club in the University District was sent to the Police Department for its review.