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Buffalo News Editorial: ECIDA Loan will allow redevelopment of Gates Circle

BUFFALO NEWS EDITORIAL

February 03, 2015

ECIDA loan will allow redevelopment work to begin on closed hospital at Gates Circle

Things are moving forward at the former Millard Fillmore Hospital site at Gates Circle with welcome news that the developer has been approved for a loan that will help get the work rolling.

As reported in The News the Erie County Industrial Development Agency's lending arm approved a $2 million loan to Gates Circle Holdings LLC. That company was formed by lead developer TM Montante to manage the $13 million in demolition, abatement and remediation needed at the site. The ECIDA loan will go toward removing ruptured underground storage tanks and contaminated soil on the property. The developer is justly expecting to receive state brownfield tax credits to cover some of that expense.

That brownfield tax credit is set to expire at the end of the year, and there is unnecessary uncertainty as to whether it will be extended. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo vetoed an extension of the Brownfield Cleanup Program at the end of the year, but now wants to extend the program with new rules aimed at ending abuses, mostly by downstate developers who misused the tax credits for high­end projects.

That isn't the case here. Projects such as this one, which need extensive cleanup of contamination, deserve those tax credits. Right now buildings on the site stand empty, an all­too familiar scenario in this area. But that is soon to change at Gates Circle as it has already at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, the waterfront and Larkinville.

When Kaleida Health closed Millard Fillmore at Gates Circle a few years ago, there was widespread concern for the future of the property. Officials at Kaleida Health, to their enormous credit, did not simply walk away from the abandoned hospital. They created a competition with a $1 million prize to the developer with the best plan for redeveloping the site. 

If all goes as planned, Gates Circle will be home to a Canterbury Woods retirement community, a YMCA community center, 500 residential apartments and a grocery store. This huge undertaking could ultimately cost more than $100 million. The transformative project will add another neighborhood to the resurgence occurring in other parts of the city.