BUFFALO, N.Y. - Kaleida Health says that a plan to locate a veterinary hospital in the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital complex has fallen through.
A new request for proposal will be sent out early next week to local and national developers to start the process of finding a qualified developer all over.
Kaleida says the big reason the project will not move forward is because the developer wasn't able to bring a veterinary school here from the Caribbean as planned. That means several hundred students who were supposed to work and study here will not come here.
"At this point, we are open to anything, that's suitable for the neighborhood, that's suitable for the community, if it's demolition, if its partial rehabilitation, if its housing if, it's retail," said Michael Hughes, the vice president and CEO at Kaleida Health.
Last year, Chason Affiity was awarded development rights for the hospital site. Kaleida Health closed the hospital in March 2012. As we reported Friday night, a source told 2 On Your Side's Scott Levin that the veterinary hospital, which was key to the project, would not commit to locating in Buffalo.
In a statement released early Saturday, Kaleida President and CEO James R. Kaskie said: "We, as a community, had a wonderful opportunity to bring an exciting project to Buffalo and Western New York. And that was a fully functioning veterinary school. The entire community rallied to help make this a reality. We learned so much through this process and are most proud of our effort to find a solution for the reuse of the campus. But now we must move on, regroup, and start an expedited process to award the development rights to a qualified developer."
Kaleida said that a project advisory committee led by former Kaleida Health Board Chair Edward F. Walsh Jr. and Robert Shibley, dean of architecture and planning at the University at Buffalo, worked for a year-and-a-half to promote communication between the community and the hospital reuse process. The reuse committee included neighbors, block club leaders, local business leaders, planners, community activists and other interested parties.
Kaleida also said that the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, co-chaired by Howard Zemsky of the Larkin Development Group, was instrumental in developing reuse plans for the facility.
Chason Affiity was awarded development rights for the hospital site in August of 2012 based on their proposal for the veterinary hospital. A new request for proposal will be sent out on July 17 to local and national developers in order to award the rights for the campus to a qualified developer, according to Kaleida.
"The landscape of Buffalo continues to change every day," said Kaskie. "As the Medical Campus continues to mature, the plans to relocate the Oishei Children's Hospital to the Campus continue, and other development activities across the community continue, we believe a qualified developer will be able to pursue many different scenarios for the reuse of this site."
Kaleida Health closed the hospital in March 2012. In April, a spokesperson for Kaleida Health, told us they were optimistic the deal would close, but said there had been delays while working to complete the transaction.
Uniland, which is another development company, was a finalist to get the Millard FIllmore project. Uniland wanted to make the property mixed use with commercial and residential space.
Any other company can submit a proposal to Kaleida when the request for proposal is issued. There's still a $1 million prize to the company chosen for the project. The property will remain vacant until a new path is found to reuse the hospital.