Ciminelli changes plans for Elmwood-Bidwell project

Posted at 7:38 PM, Jan 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-26 20:00:49-05

Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation is now changing its plans for a $40 million mixed-use development project planned for the Elmwood-Bidwell area.

Originally, Ciminelli proposed two parts to the project called "Arbor" and "Reverie" that would have included 100 condominiums and apartments, eight retail storefronts and a three-level parking ramp.

After several concerns were raised about the size of the project, and the impact it would have on the neighborhood, Ciminelli announced it has withdrawn the plans for "Arbor" at the corner of Elmwood and Bidwell Parkway.

The company said it wants to focus efforts on "Reverie" which would be a four-story building constructed north of Elmwood and Potomac Avenues.  "Reverie" will include 63 residential living units, 125 parking spaces and 4 neighborhood retail commercial spaces.

Standing in the way of this project is the Buffalo Preservation Board which is now looking at the possibility of assigning "landmark status" to the district where Ciminelli's project is proposed.

A lawyer for Ciminelli told the board that the company felt the action was unfair and "reactionary" to Ciminelli's application for demolition.

Board members responded that it is their duty to perform a thorough investigation of all city projects, a process that can take several months.

The project could be slowed even more because the Ciminelli project is the first one being conducted under Buffalo's new Green Code.

The following is a statement from Ciminelli about the company's revised plan for Elmwood-Bidwell.

Williamsville, NY—Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation (CREC) today announced a major project shift related to its previously proposed Arbor + Reverie mixed-use development effort in the City of Buffalo’s Elmwood Village. In response to recent and ongoing public feedback compiled throughout an 18-month community engagement process, the company has decided to reevaluate the Arbor portion of the project, while moving forward with both the Reverie building and 721 Ashland Ave., as well as restoration of the former Sunday Skateshop at 587 Potomac Ave. CREC will pull the demolition permits for the Arbor site plan and focus current efforts only on Reverie and Ashland as they move through the review process. Additionally, CREC will amend its Green Code site plan application to remove Arbor from site plan review.

“We have a great deal of respect for our fellow community members and have stated from the very beginning of this development effort that we value public input,” said Paul Ciminelli, President and CEO, Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation. “The decision to scale back the project is demonstration that our team has truly been listening to all of the feedback received to date from neighbors and other interested parties.”

“Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation has made the voluntary decision to take a step back and remove Arbor from the proposed project plan, which covered the southern portion of the project site located along Bidwell Parkway.” said Adam Walters, Partner, Phillips Lytle LLP, and project attorney. “The company is going to take additional time to develop an approach to that aspect of the project; one which both Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation and the Elmwood Village neighborhood can get behind and better agree on.”

Reverie is located along Elmwood Avenue on the northern block of the project site. While it was originally proposed to be a five-story building, CREC has scaled plans down to four stories (53 vertical feet). Reverie will be built to include significant additional retail space, residential units, and many additional parking spaces. The building will be comprised of traditional materials, such as brick, to ensure Reverie evokes the context of the neighborhood.  588 Potomac Ave. will be rehabilitated, and 721 Ashland Ave. will be removed and rebuilt as an attractive building offering one-bedroom apartment units.
Construction on Reverie will begin shortly after project approval is received.