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Chason Affinity Selected to Develop Former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital Site

Updated: 9/5/2012

Kaleida Health has selected Chason Affinity to develop the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital site.

Chason Affinity’s proposal calls for a new “School of Veterinary Medicine” with selective demolition, adaptive reuse, and historic preservation, for a total estimated project cost of $65 million. The proposal is based on observation of shortages of veterinarians nationwide and lack of veterinary school slots.

“Chason Affinity’s proposal is visionary, is a good reuse of the hospital and can bring tremendous economic impact to our community,” said James R. Kaskie, president and CEO of Kaleida Health. “While there is much work still to be done by the developer, we are very excited for the community about this unique opportunity.”

Chason Affinity proposes a green design as an extension of the Frederick Law Olmsted parkway system. This includes:

  • Using the main hospital building as a veterinary teaching hospital with classrooms and support services.
  • Removing "nonessential" buildings to create park and pedestrian friendly areas throughout the campus.
  • Excavating the original 1911 Homeopathic Hospital building to renovate as an on-campus residence.
  • Adding translucent additions to the brick tower building - a ground level addition facing Gates Circle, an atrium in the center of the campus, and a 10th floor glass walled enclosure – that will increase the transparency of the complex and its relation to the surrounding neighborhoods.

The announcement is drawing praise from economic development and government leaders.

“This is a great day, not just for Buffalo, but for all of New York,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. “This initiative will help strengthen Buffalo’s economy while preserving its rich history and making New York a leader in addressing a nationwide shortage of veterinarians. I commend Kaleida Health and Chason Affinity for their hard work on this critically important project for our future.”

Lt. Governor Robert Duffy attended the announcement and spoke on Governor Cuomo’s behalf.

“The rich talent and diversity of a veterinary school brings enormous benefits and spin-offs for a community,” said Mark Chason, president of Chason Affinity. “Over 50% of America's pets receive no regular veterinary care, so there continues to be a need for veterinarians. As Baby Boomer veterinarians retire, this need will only grow.”

Chason said his research shows that the Northeast United States (including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York) has 56 million people, and a proportionate number of America's 180 million pets, but only three smaller veterinary schools: Penn, Cornell and Tufts.

Interested students from these states and New England have to go out of state in most cases to earn their veterinary degree. Eastern Canada presents similar dynamics and opportunities for a western New York veterinary school.

Mark Cushing, founding partner of the Animal Policy Group and partner, Tonkon Torp, LLP, is part of the Chason Affinity development team. Cushing is a national leader and consultant in animal health and veterinary education, with experience in opening veterinary schools and their accreditation.

The designated developer status is contingent upon Chason Affinity securing financing for the project and securing the veterinary school tenant for the site.

A project advisory committee led by former Kaleida Health Board Chair Edward F. (Ted) Walsh Jr. has been working for the past 18 months to promote communication between the community and the hospital reuse process. The committee includes neighbors, block club leaders, local business leaders, planners, community activists and other interested parties.

“When all the factors are added up, the evidence was overwhelmingly in favor of the Chason proposal, realities that both the selection jury and the Kaleida Health board were happy to recognize,” said Walsh.

In June, Kaleida Health held a community forum to unveil submissions to the “Hospital Reuse Design/Development Competition” for the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital. The event included a presentation and exhibits from the two competitors who submitted qualified proposals for the Gates Circle site, Chason Affinity and Uniland Development.

Robert G. Shibley, the Dean of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo, founder of the Urban Design Project and a lead consultant on city and regional projects including the Comprehensive Plan for the City of Buffalo, is helping facilitate the public dialogue process for Kaleida Health. Cassidy Turley, a national leader in real estate consultation, is also assisting in the process.

Professor Shibley led a jury of project advisory committee members and Kaleida Health officials in judging the reuse contest.

In 2011, Kaleida Health engaged the internationally renowned Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the University at Buffalo’s Urban Design Project to study the reuse concept. Earlier this year, Kaleida Health released an official RFP for a Hospital Reuse Design/Development Competition to the local and national development community.

The competition is aimed at getting the best ideas and the most capable developers to do something great with Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital -- great for the neighborhood and city, great for the developer, and great for Kaleida Health.

On March 28, 2012, the new Gates Vascular Institute opened adjacent to the Buffalo General Medical Center. The opening of the new facility, which is now Western New York’s hub for stroke care, cardiac surgery and vascular services, marked the official closing of Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital.

Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Reuse Timeline

January 2011

Kaleida Health engages the internationally renowned Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the University at Buffalo’s Urban Design Project to study the reuse concept.

June 2011

Kaleida Health engages national real estate consulting firm of Cassidy Turley (Tom Powers as lead), based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

January 2012

Cassidy Turley directs a “Request for Interest” (RFI) to 177 national firms who have demonstrated experience in hospital reuse.

February 2012

The RFI becomes a “Request for Proposal” (RFP). The RFP becomes a “Design Development Competition” with $1 million for the winning entry to be paid upon approval of the development proposal and a closing on a property transfer. Cassidy Turley and the Urban Design Project direct RFP solicitations to 55 national and local developers, and to 92 architectural firms with whom Kaleida Health had discussions with, based upon the RFI.

March 2012

Fourteen (14) firms respond to the RFP, and register for the design/development competition. Competitors tour the Millard Fillmore Gates Circle campus.

April 2012

The registrant list declines to 13. At the request of the competitors, Kaleida Health extends the response/registration deadline. Competitors continue to tour the MFG Campus.

May 2012

Kaleida Health receives four expressions of interest in the Millard Gates reuse project. Competitor tours of the campus continue.

June 2012

Kaleida Health has two qualified entries for the competition. Competitor tours of the campus continue.

August 2012

Kaleida Health selects Chason Affinity as designated developer.