Lawsuit sends Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal to New York Supreme Court

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Buffalo, New York — Attorney Arthur J. Giacalone has filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court against the city of Buffalo's Common Council and Planning board, alleging that the proposed Elmwood Village Hotel was approved "without giving meaningful consideration to either the impact on the adjoining residential neighborhood, or the unique character of this section of Elmwood Avenue." Giacalone is representing Nancy Pollina and Patricia Morris, who operate the 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.

The Elmwood Village Hotel is a 72-room, seven-million-dollar hotel proposed by Savarino Construction Services Corporation and designed by architect Karl Frizlen of the Frizlen Group. Its construction would require the demolition of at least five buildings, currently at 1109-1121 Elmwood, which house several shops and residents. Although the properties are "under contract," it is still not known whether Savarino Construction actually owns the buildings. It is believed that Hans Mobius, a resident of Clarence, New York and former Buffalo mayoral candidate, is still the owner. The hotel is expected to be a franchise of the Wyndham Hotels group.

The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court, is seeking annulment of the City of Buffalo's rezoning and site plan approvals for the hotel.

"Had the Common Council members complied with State law and waited to receive comments from the County's planning agency, they would have been obliged to address the County's concerns regarding the replacement of former residential buildings with 'a much larger commercial structure', the health effects of placing a 55-vehicle parking area next to existing homes, and the absence of a traffic study to assess the likelihood that the project would add 'considerable congestion' to the Elmwood/Forest intersection," said Giacalone.

The latest rendering of the Elmwood Village Hotel proposal.

"The four-story hotel will overshadow the neighboring homes and backyards, impacting quality of life and property values. Equally as important, the project will displace a unique and diverse group of businesses that have served nearby college students and Buffalo's arts and theater community for many years, and replace them with upscale retail establishments that will cater, not to local residents, but to affluent tourists and business travelers," added Giacalone.

On March 22, 2006 the city's Common Council approved the rezoning for the proposed hotel and on March 28, the Planning board approved the design and site plan of the hotel.

The lawsuit, entitled Pollina et al. v. Common Council of the City of Buffalo et al., [Index No. I-2006-3885], has been assigned to the Honorable Rose H. Sconiers, and is scheduled for oral argument at 9:30 A.M. on Thursday June 8, 2006.

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