By Jill Terreri
Concerns about plans for a new homeless shelter on the edge of the Larkin District were raised during the Planning Board's first look at the project this morning.
The City Mission is planning to convert a factory to a housing facility for people who are homeless, which would replace their existing facility on East Tupper Street. The move would allow the organization eight times the space it has now.
One woman who owns a house on Jefferson Avenue nearby said she didn't want to live across the street from a shelter, and said kids live in the neighborhood.
Steve Carmina, an architect for the project, said that planning is in the early stages and that a meeting with stakeholders will be held by early August. The project requires several approvals, from planning, zoning and preservation boards.
Three others with business interests in the Larkin District said they wanted to know more about the project.
The board took no action.
The board also approved:
- Plans for a new 31-space parking lot for D'Youville College. The lot, at 783 Niagara St., will incorporate a bell from St. Mary's on the Hill, a church that once stood there. The bell will be placed at Niagara and Vermont streets.
- Plans for a storage addition at Pelicano's at 195 Reading Ave., where sauces are manufactured and distributed.
- Plans for a second-floor addition to the Hatch at the Erie Basin Marina. The 3,400-square-foot addition would accomodate a full-service restaurant and bar and will be surrounded with glass. The plan originally included new office space and a conference room, but available funding may not allow those plans, city Harbormaster Donald Poleto told the board.
- Plans for an exterior renovation and some changes to vehicular access at the former Sheehan hospital at 425 Michigan Ave., now known as Compass East. McGuire Development is redeveloping the property to include a call center for Time Warner Cable and medical offices.
- The renovation of a facade at 739 Main St., owned by Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs' Avalon Development.
- Plans by Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper to restore the Buffalo River shoreline at 1339 South Park Ave.
- Plans for a Dollar General store at 663 E. Ferry St., which will be affiliated with True Bethel Baptist Church. The board had urged the developer to make the store look less suburban, and the store was relocated on the site so the parking is on the side of the building, not the front.
At 1 p.m. today, the Common Council's Community Development Committee will discuss plans by ECC to expand in Amherst. North Council Member Joseph Golombek said a group of opponents to the move will be in Council Chambers. Council staff was not sure if ECC will also be represented at the meeting.
Though ECC's mind appears to be made up, Golombek said he is hoping to build momentum against the move.
At 2 p.m. today, a representative from Time-Warner Cable is expected to speak to lawmakers about the company's digital conversion, which affects some customers.
During the Council's Finance Committee this morning, lawmakers heard from Joseph Morrison of M&T Bank about the bank's foreclosure practices.
M&T Bank doesn't come up much on lists of abandoned houses that are in foreclosure limbo, but South Council Member Chris Scanlon said he wanted to hear from the bank about its policies, to try to understand the issue.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of houses around Western New York are abandoned, because homeowners receive a foreclosure notice from the bank. The bank, for reasons unknown, doesn't complete the foreclosure, but continues to pay the taxes, which prevents municipalities from foreclosing and selling the properties at auction.
Scanlon is concerned about foreclosed properties in his district, and said he would like to have a meeting with other stakeholders to get a handle on the issue.
During the conversation this morning, lawmakers said they were trying to understand if state statutes were creating the problem, or if it was the banks' own policies.
The problem of these abandoned properties aren't unique to New York, but the state's long foreclosure timelines - the state tries to give time for homeowners to get out of foreclosure - make swift action by the bank difficult, bank representatives have said.