The University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences will soon join the panoply of hospitals, research offices and skilled-nursing facilities that make up the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus downtown, and the developers are reaching out to nearby residents to make sure it’s a good fit.
Thursday, they met with residents and business owners in Buffalo’s Allentown community to update them on the project and gather feedback on how the school might be integrated into the community.
The new medical school is slated for construction along Main Street from the site of the current Metro Rail station at Allen and High streets, which will be incorporated into the design of the seven-story building. Residents were assured that the construction would not impede access to the station.
“Anytime we do a project like the move of the medical school downtown, it impacts the surrounding communities,” said Laura E. Hubbard, vice president of finance and administration at UB.
“So an important part of doing a project for us is understanding what those impacts are and considering those and hearing from the community about that,” Hubbard added.
She noted that the move of the medical school to downtown has been an important part of UB 2020 planning.
“It’s really a return home for our school of medicine which actually started downtown many years ago when UB was just a fledgling university. The medical school was the start of UB,” Hubbard said.
The project will increase partnership opportunities with Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Kaleida Health and UB’s own medical practices, placing those in the fields of research, teaching and clinical practice in a central location, she said.
“I think it’s really about connectivity, making sure that the employee base that we’re growing on the campus will be connected,” said Matthew K. Enstice, executive director of the Medical Campus.
There are roughly 12,000 people who work on the campus currently, and that number is expected to increase to 17,000 by the end of 2016, Enstice said.
There are no plans to provide housing for students at the medical school, Enstice added, and the cafeteria in the building will be small.
The objective is to encourage the students to go out into the community, not just Allentown, but the neighboring Fruit Belt community, downtown and communities north of the campus, according to developers.
“We’re in the process right now of building a park. We’re spending about $6.5 million to redo Ellicott Street, and what’s happening there is we’re under construction right now,” Enstice said.
“We’ll be completed by the fall of this year building a park,” he added.
“The biggest part that I’m playing right now is to make sure the people in the neighborhood are being heard and listened to.
“I’ve got to say, the university is very understanding of that, and their voices will be heard through this in multiple different ways. This is one of them.”