D'Youville talking through building renovation

October 9, 2013 Updated Oct 9, 2013 at 9:26 AM EDT

By Dan Miner, Reporter- Business First

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D'Youville talking through building renovation

October 9, 2013 Updated Oct 9, 2013 at 9:26 AM EDT

D'Youville College is close to finalizing plans for a $20 million renovation of the former Gateway-Longview headquarters on Niagara Street.

But the college is still working through design plans with community groups and the city's Preservation Board, from which concerns have emerged about D'Youville's plans to demolish parts of the property and also how the preliminary renderings fit in with the character of the neighborhood.

The renderings made the rounds last week in several meetings attended by D'Youville, but are not final and are currently being changed. D'Youville has hired Uniland Development Company to work on the project, and it hopes to have a new set of drawings finalized at some point Wednesday.

The college is holding a public informational session about the project at 6 p.m. Thursday at Madonna Hall, 334 Porter St., to provide updated information on the project. It plans to meet again with the Preservation Board next week.

The building will be renamed the School of Arts, Sciences and Education and include about 85,000-square-feet of academic space. Edward Cogan, Associate Vice President of Operations & Construction at the college, said it will include a strong focus science-related programs, including lab space and classrooms.

Whatever the design, the building promises a new facade on Niagara Street, though foot traffic will mainly flow through the existing parking lot on Prospect Street to an entrance near the back of the building.

"We're currently redesigning the exterior to at least respond to some of the objections," Cogan said. "We've got an invitation to the community (for the Thursday meeting) so we can present the new renderings and answer any questions from the neighborhood."

Cogan said the Gateway-Longview building is not in a Preservation Board district, so if the board denies the demolition request that denial expires in 30 days and the college can file for a demo permit and commence with the project. Cogan said the college doesn't plan to use that strategy "as long as their requests are reasonable."

Landlocked D'Youville has undergone an aggressive expansion on nearby off-campus sites in recent years. It purchased the Gateway-Longview building in November 2012 for $730,000.

It is also currently developing a $5 million athletic fields complex on Fourth Street, just off Porter Avenue, that will include an artificial turf field housing softball, lacrosse and soccer, along with a small fieldhouse. And it recently received Planning Board approval to develop a 31-space parking lot at the site of the former St. Mary's Church on Niagara and Vermont streets, a $100,000 project.

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