Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn

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Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
Original Story

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Buffalo, New York — According to the developer Savarino Construction Services Corporation, the proposed Elmwood Village Hotel which would be placed on the corner of Elmwood and Forest Avenues in Buffalo, New York has been withdrawn from the city's Planning Board and Common Council and will undergo a "do over"; however, Eva Hassett, Vice President of Savarino says that the proposal will be resubmitted, from scratch by the end of next week.

The hotel would require the demolition of at least five properties, 1109-1121 Elmwood and would cause the closure of several businesses. Already, two businesses, Skunk Tail Glass and Six Nations Native American Gift Shop have relocated, outside the Elmwood Strip. Don apparel, H.O.D. Tattoo and Mondo Video still remain on Elmwood; however, Mondo Video is planning on moving to a new location. The hotel will be 72 rooms and will cost at least 7 million dollars to build.

"We're lovers, not fighters. Our energies should be spent on developing a really wonderful project, not wasted in court. We'll start over with a clean slate and take as much time as necessary to hear people out and end up with a very positive project for the neighborhood," said President of Savarino Construction, Sam Savarino.

The hotel will not undergo any major changes in its design says Savarino. "We would anticipate little if any physical change to the plans." He also alleges that the issues with the hotel were not with the design or the proposal and also says that the hotel is still right for the intersection.

The most recent rendition of the Elmwood Village Hotel.

"The perceived problem was with the process, not the proposal itself. We believe this is the right thing to do on that corner," added Savarino.

According to the Buffalo News, the projects resubmission is aimed to "shed the lawsuits" against the proposal. The Buffalo News also claims that the Common Council members are all still "in favor of the project." The proposal was unanimously passed by the council on March 21, 2006.

Attorney Arthur J. Giacalone who represents the plaintiffs, Nancy Pollina and Patricia Morris, who operate Don Apparel (a vintage clothing and collectibles shop at 1119 Elmwood Avenue), Angeline Genovese and Evelyn Bencinich, owners of residences on Granger Place which abut the rear of the proposed site, Nina Freudenheim, a resident of nearby Penhurst Park, and Sandra Girage, the owner of a two-family residence on Forest Avenue less than a hundred feet from the proposed hotel's sole entrance and exit driveway, says that the hotel proposal was "inappropriately rushed," but some council members disagree. Defendants in the lawsuit against the hotel are, Buffalo's Common Council and Planning Board, Mayor of Buffalo, Byron W. Brown, Savarino Construction Services Corporation, Hans J. Mobius and his son Hans S. Mobius owners of the properties at stake, Pano Georgiadis, owner of Pano's Restaurant on Elmwood, and Cendant Corporation, the parent company of Wyndham Hotels, which will be, according to Savarino, the hotel operator. Attorney David State is representing the city, Planning Board, Mayor Byron Brown and the Common Council.

"I don't think it was a rush job," said Dominic J. Bonifacio Jr., the council's Majority Leader. He also alleges that the only way to make "it [the hotel] a better project and ease the concerns of some neighbors would be to find a way to provide more parking."

In an exclusive phone interview with Wikinews, Giacalone states that the lawsuit against the hotel and the city "will not be moved [withdrawn] unless the Common Council resins their [prior] decisions in passing the proposal." Giacalone also says that Savarino has yet to submit any new plans for the proposal to the city. He also says that he "still plans to represent all plaintiffs" if they wish to continue with the suit and the use of his services.

Giacalone rescheduled the preliminary hearing which is "still in place" for July 27, 2006. When asked if the properties are still owned by Mobius, Giacalone replied "yes" and that according to attorney Bob Knoer, the Lawyer representing Hans Mobius, the owner of the properties that could be demolished, there is "no contract between Savarino" and that Mobius "plans to put the properties back on the market." Mobius has not returned phone calls or e-mails and has not yet commented on the situation or the proposal itself. The city denies these claims.

Council member Joseph Golombek at a public meeting regarding the hotel in March.

In an exclusive phone interview by Wikinews, area councilman Joseph Golombek states that the reason for the resubmission of the proposal was due to "a mistake in the Planning process" and that none of the council members have "indicated that they have changed their opinions on the hotel" and still remain in favor of the project.

"I still think the Hotel is a good idea for that part of Elmwood. For Elmwood to stay strong and vibrant it must continue to grow and adapt to change. It is a different community than it was twenty years ago and will be different in another twenty years. The opponents of the Hotel have the opportunity to challenge it and are doing that. Even though I disagree with them I am glad there is a safety mechanism for people who disagree with government. We need to keep moving forward," added Golombek.

Supporters of the hotel proposal are planning on holding a rally to support the new development. WNYmedia.net claims that the first rally will be held to support the hotel proposal on July 17, 2006 at 5:00 p.m. on Elmwood and Forest, on the site of the proposed location. According to WNYmedia.net they "are tired of the anti development crowd in Western New York." They also blast opponents of the hotel proposal calling them "bananas" and "nimbys." People opposed to the hotel proposal are planning on "counter attacking" with their own protest on the same day and time.

Sources

Wikinews
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