Friday, November 17, 2006

Proposal of apartments for the visually impaired

A Buffalo-based non-profit agency is looking for the go-ahead to build an apartment complex for the visually-impaired on Davison Road.Representatives from the Olmsted Center for Visually Impaired, Silvestri Architects, LLC and Savarino Construction gave an initial presentation of the project Tuesday during the Lockport Town Planning Board’s work session.

The company wants to build a $4 million, 24-unit apartment building at 5556 Davison Road, a skinny 2.2-acre site in the Ulrich Business Park. see ulrich on page 4aulrich ...continued from page 1aOlmsted’s Chief Financial Officer Milissa Acquard said the building will include a talking elevator, signs in Braille and contours on the staircases.

A property manager and maintenance technicians will work in the complex. There also will be a part-time service coordinator to help residents pay bills or find services nearby.“This is completely independent living,” Acquard said.There will be 20 1-bedroom apartments with rent around $350 and four 2-bedroom apartments with rent around $400.

The complex itself will not be subsidized. The tan building with red brick trim will occupy the front half of the site, while a gazebo and storm water retention pond will take up the back half.Olmsted has similar apartment complexes in Cheektowaga, North Tonawanda, and three in Buffalo.

Residents are primarily visually-impaired, but Acquard said the complex cannot turn anyone away who is deemed disabled by a doctor.Acquard said Olmsted will need to have the site approved by mid-December in order to apply for project funds through the Department of Housing and Community Renewal. The project will be funded primarily through federal tax credits and money from the New York State Housing Trust Fund, with funds to close the gap from state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane.

The time crunch to find land for the project set in after the original Town of Lockport site was deemed incompatible, said Savarino vice president David E. Pawlik. He said he was told the first site would be difficult to re-zone because of an unspecified long-term project in the area. Pawlik said the new site’s location near the commercial districts on Davison Road and Lincoln Avenue will make it easier for residents to run errands while maintaining a good quality of life.“This site is in a very safe environment,” Pawlik said.

Members of the planning board said informally they thought the project looked pretty solid overall except for a few issues.Town engineer Rob Klavoon cited an ongoing issue with development within David Ulrich’s business park.“The whole underlying goal is planning for the entire complex,” Klavoon said. “We need to see Mr. Ulrich’s plan.”Both Klavoon and town planner Drew Reilly said they want Ulrich to come up with an overall plan for storm water drainage rather than handling it piecemeal with retention and detention ponds on each site.

Ulrich is expected to be in attendance for the planning board’s regular Tuesday session and discuss his plans. Klavoon said he understands Ulrich wants the detention pond behind the Olmsted project to service future projects on that side of the road.Olmsted will have to get variances to have fewer than two parking spaces per apartment and to have apartments smaller than the 850-square-foot code standard.

The apartments are expected to be about 600 square feet each.The project plan will be sent to the town board to amend the business park’s Planned Unit Development to allow the Olmsted project in. Representatives for the complex will return for Tuesday’s regular meeting.In other planning board news:n The plans for the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter will be sent to the county’s planning board next week. Reilly said sites near state or county roads must be reviewed by the higher board.


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