By Jill Terreri
Two major developments won praise at the Planning Board this morning.
A seven-story medical office building described as a gateway to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus was approved by the board, while a public space that will frame Canalside was presented as a courtesy to the city, as no board approval was necessary.
Board Member Cynthia Schwartz praised the "East Canal" project but questioned the lack of public restrooms at Canalside. Project engineers, who have incorporated arched fountains, trees, lighting and walkways said there were no plans for a public restroom on that parcel.
"It's a real problem with folks with young children," she said. "I realize they're a headache, but they're a real disincentive."
Engineers from C&S, who designed the project, said they would bring the concerns about restrooms to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., which is planning Canalside.
Construction on the site, which is about a third of an acre, is scheduled to begin in spring and be open when the former Donovan Building opens as offices and a Courtyard by Marriott hotel in January 2014. The new public space is sandwiched between the Donovan Building to the north and Scott Street to the south.
Ciminelli Real Estate's "Conventus" project will front Main Street and will house Kaleida and UBMD, a doctor's group affiliated with the university. The building will connect to the new Children's Hospital, the new UB medical school and UB's research institute on addictions.
"It's always been our intention to have a building that's complementary... and not compete with the strong architecture that will be on three sides," said architect Glenn Pawloski of Kideney Architects.
The design for the building was described as a "lantern," one that will be transparent and well-lit.
"It's very warm and soft, that's the intention," Pawloski said.
Project planners are pursuing a LEED Gold certification, which is a measure of how environmentally friendly the building is. The roof will be "green," which will prevent storm water from running into the city sewer system. The building will have room for 318 parking spaces below grade, and will be within 500 feet of a multi-modal transit hub, which will also have parking spaces.
The project also requires Zoning Board of Appeals approval because it exceeds height restrictions for the area.
The board also approved plans for an Elmwood location of Joe's Deli, at the former Off the Wall restaurant, which was purchased by the deli. Owner Joseph Lyons told the board he plans to offer take-out and seating - a "hybrid" of his Hertel location, and plans to preserve the restaurant's outdoor patio. He hopes to be open by May. He'll be open seven days a week and is seeking a liquor license.
Two Hertel restaurants also got approval, both Italian.
Rick and Diane Serra are opening Caramici's Bistro and Bakery (the bakery is already open) at 1487 Hertel (formerly La Marina), and Angelo and Leanne Antonucci plan to open a restaurant at the former Garangelo's at 1197 Hertel.