3 groups make pitch to redevelop Millard Gates

September 25, 2013 Updated Sep 25, 2013 at 9:18 AM EDT

By Tracey Drury, Buffalo Business First


3 groups make pitch to redevelop Millard Gates

September 25, 2013 Updated Sep 25, 2013 at 9:18 AM EDT

Kaleida Health officials are interviewing developers from three local teams vying for redevelopment rights at the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital site.

The health system confirmed Tuesday it received three strong responses to its request for proposals this summer, the second effort to identify a reuse project at the site.

Last summer, a competitive process led to an initial deal with Chason Affinity Cos. LLC that called for creating a school of veterinary medicine. The $65 million project fell apart earlier this summer, with Kaleida restarting the RFP process once again in July.

Though Kaleida declined to reveal the names of the developers, Uniland Development Co. confirmed it has resubmitted the same $110 million proposal initially submitted last summer for a mixed-used, residential development at Gates. Company officials said they were encouraged last year by the response from the community for the project and saw no reason to make changes.

"This project aligns with Uniland's mission to build a better community," said spokesman Jill Pawlik. "Kaleida can be confident in our proposal based on our reputation for results."

Canterbury Woods of Williamsville indicated a strong interest in the site earlier this summer but would not confirm if it submitted a proposal. Another possible contender is Chason Affinity, whose officials said in July they still believed the site had lots of potential, pointing to its successful effort at securing brownfield tax credits for the site.

Michael Hughes, Kaleida vice president and chief marketing officer, said they'll study the proposals, meet with developers and interview each team over the coming weeks with a goal of selecting a project this fall.

"All three are local and they are respected, responsible developers," he said. "The goal is to make sure that we can complete a transaction in a quick manner so the next evolution of that site can begin."

Millard Gates was closed in spring 2012 with most programs shifting to Buffalo General Medical Center and the Gates Vascular Institute, both on the downtown Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The property at Gates Circle includes an 882,000-square-foot hospital complex on 10 acres.

Kaleida sent out 59 packets to local and national development firms in mid-July with a response deadline of Sept. 16. The fact that no national groups responded was more likely a matter of familiarity with the Western New York market, Hughes said.

"It's obviously a great location and a great piece of real estate," he said. "Our philosophy is all it takes is one competent, qualified developer to complete the transaction and begin the next evolution of that site."

The redevelopment will happen in tandem with another Kaleida reuse process for the Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo, which is scheduled to move to its new home in 2016. A similar development rights RFP for the Bryant Street campus is expected to be released in early 2014.

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