McGuire to buy, de­mol­ish and re­build com­mu­nity cen­ter

The Buffalo News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Mark Som­mer NEWS STAFF RE­PORTER

A new North Buf­falo Com­mu­nity Cen­ter, with the pos­si­ble ad­di­tion of af­ford­able se­nior hous­ing, is on the hori­zon.

McGuire De­vel­op­ment Co. plans to buy and then de­mol­ish the one-story, 60-year-old city-owned build­ing at 203 San­ders Road. It would then re­de­velop the site.

“This will be a win-win for North Buf­falo,” said Delaware Coun­cil Mem­ber Joel Fero­leto. “The com­mu­nity cen­ter is dated, and a new fa­cil­ity will be great for the neigh­bor­hood.”

Fero­leto said adding af­ford­able se­nior hous­ing would also fill a com­mu­nity need.

“There are a lot of se­niors who cur­rently live in North Buf­falo and never want to move out,” Fero­leto said. “A big con­cern for them is to live on one level and not have to deal with stairs. This is an op­por­tu­nity to keep them in North Buf­falo, and live in a brand new apart­ment.”

A des­ig­nated de­vel­op­ment agree­ment would re­quire the space to re­main a com­mu­nity cen­ter. Fero­leto said the abil­ity of the com­mu­nity cen­ter’s board of di­rec­tors to con­tinue making op­er­a­tional de­ci­sions would be cod­i­fied.

A pur­chase price has not been set yet by the city’s Divi­sion of Real Es­tate. City records es­ti­mate the prop­erty value at $598,906.

The des­ig­nated de­vel­oper agree­ment is now be­fore the Com­mon Coun­cil. It is ex­pected to be dis­cussed in the Leg­is­la­tion Com­mit­tee on Tues­day and could be voted on by the full Coun­cil on April 16.

There are no ren­der­ings of the planned de­vel­op­ment, but that’s because the de­vel­oper wants to hear what the com­mu­nity wants.

“Hav­ing com­mu­nity en­gage­ment is a pri­or­ity,” said Eu­nice Lewin, pres­i­dent of Im­pacto Con­sult­ing As­so­ciates, which will part­ner with the de­vel­oper.

“This is not some­thing we can do by our­selves,” Lewin said. “They live there, they know what their needs are. And to­gether we can come up with the best project.”

Lewin said it’s too early for a timetable, but “we are mov­ing as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

A new roof with a $1 mil­lion price tag had been planned by the city. Fero­leto dis­cussed al­ter­na­tives with the city’s Divi­sion of Real Es­tate, which led to an anal­y­sis and a de­vel­oper re­quest for qual­i­fi­ca­tions. Three de­vel­op­ers re­sponded. The city chose McGuire De­vel­op­ment on the rec­om­men­da­tion of the North Buf­falo Com­mu­nity Cen­ter board of di­rec­tors.

Ron Desch­enes, the com­mu­nity cen­ter’s board pres­i­dent, said he looks for­ward to the new build­ing and what it would mean for se­niors, who now eat meals, play bingo and cards, and do arts and crafts at the cen­ter.

“I feel ec­static that this will be a good deal for North Buf­falo,” Desch­enes said. “To have se­nior cit­i­zens liv­ing above it will im­prove the com­mu­nity cen­ter. They are a very im­por­tant part of it.”

John Hickey/Buf­falo News

A de­vel­oper plans to de­mol­ish the 60-year-old build­ing that houses the North Buf­falo Com­mu­nity Cen­ter, at 203 San­ders Road, and re­place it with a new com­mu­nity cen­ter with se­nior hous­ing above it.

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