Hundreds packed the Mary Seaton room at Kleinhan's Music Hall on Thursday. Bill Albers was one of them. He lives a stone's throw from Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo. “I just live two blocks up Richmond there,” he explained. That's why he was eager to hear what developers have planned once the hospital moves out. Albers was attracted to Uniland's proposal for park space and Ciminelli's concept because it includes a soccer field. “I like the park idea, the soccer thing, the green space, anything where you're going to have more green space and a place I can walk my dog,” Albers said.
Erin Habes also lives in the Elmwood Village on West Utica Street. She too appreciates the idea of a soccer field in the area. I did like the soccer field idea. I thought that was really cool. That certainly resonated with parents like David Martinez. Martinez coaches the Delaware Soccer Club. He said having a field in the Elmwood Village would be life changing. “We have to go out to North Tonawanda about 35 to 40 minutes coming from the city to have practice, for example.”
Resident said the soccer field wasn't the only stand out. “I think having residences and some green space on West Utica would really help everyone,” said Margie Pawloski. “I love the park space components. I love adaptive reuse components,” added Brandon Davis.
Overall, we didn't hear many complaints. The crowd seemed genuinely grateful that the 617,000 square foot space won't likely sit vacant for long no matter which developer is chosen. The hospital hopes to make a decision by mid-year. They want whoever is chosen construction ready the minute the hospital moves out. The new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital is currently under construction. It's set to open on the Buffalo Niagara campus in 2017.
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