TM Montante Development Co. is getting closer to nailing down two crucial tenants for its $63 million project on the site of the former Millard Fillmore Hospital campus at Gates Circle.
The YMCA confirmed that it is considering 55,000 square feet of space on the site for a new Buffalo location that would replace its current one on Delaware Avenue just north of Hertel Avenue.
Montante also confirmed that it has spoken with Tops Friendly Markets, Lexington Cooperative Market, Dash’s Markets, Wegmans and Whole Foods as it looks to fill 25,000 square feet of grocery retail space that it plans to build new on the site. At least two of those stores are out of the running, and Montante is having serious talks with two more.
Buddy Campbell, CEO of YMCA Buffalo Niagara, said his organization is in “very preliminary discussions” with Montante and is waiting for results from a market study to be returned over the next few weeks before deciding whether the site would suit its membership.
“We have been looking around,” Campbell said. “This is the first site we have actually done a market study on, but we’re not ruling out continuing to look through the North Buffalo service area to see what’s available.”
The wellness center would adjoin the existing 800-space parking ramp that TM Montante is hoping to buy from the City of Buffalo.
The grocery store would be situated along Delaware Avenue and Lancaster Avenue, which TM Montante plans to extend to connect with Linwood Avenue.
Tops and Lexington Co-op are possibilities for the space, though neither grocery store nor the developer would confirm they are considering the location.
“Tops is still exploring all possible options, and because there are no preliminary agreements in place, it is too soon to be able to comment about any potential, specific location,” said Katie McKenna, a spokeswoman for Tops.
Lexington Co-op has confirmed that it is looking to expand to another location but declined to comment on any possibilities.
Still, the process of elimination seems to hint that they are strong candidates.
Dash’s Markets, busy with its renovation of the former Budwey’s location on Kenmore Avenue, has confirmed that it has no plans to locate on the Montante site. Whole Foods, said to be looking for space in the Northtowns, also appears to be out of the running.
J. Timothy Vaeth, president of TM Montante, said the company researched the demographics and economics of the surrounding area, compared them with data on the two stores’ other branches, and concluded that the nearby community is capable of supporting a store in that location.
Vaeth said he hopes to have letters of intent signed with a grocery store within the next couple of weeks and with the wellness center by June 13.