Apr 29, 2013

Deaconess Hospital Complex Comes Down, Deaconess Heights to Rise in its Place

The Deaconess Hospital complex at 1001 Humboldt Parkway (google map) is completely down and crews are working to remove the remainder of the debris. Once the site has been completely cleared a new housing development will begin construction on the site. Kaleida Health paid for the demolition of the 268,000 square foot hospital complex in order to pave the way for the Community Action Organization of Erie County (CAO) to create a new housing development, Deaconess Heights.

Deaconess Hospital Complex,  November 2012
Deaconess Heights has been designed in an attempt to be sympathetic to the nature of its urban surroundings. New homes will have setbacks similar to existing homes in the neighborhood, parking lots will be regulated to the rear, and large porches will help foster neighbor relationships. Their design also takes cues from older home styles with gable roofs, bay windows, and other fenestration patterns that one would typically find throughout the area. The homes will all face the street on which they are sited and large courtyards, community gardens, and playgrounds will be framed by the homes to the rear. It will be developed in phases over the next two years with a target date of Spring 2015 for full completion.

Deaconess Hospital Complex,  March 2013
“The CAO is working with a development group that includes McGuire Development, R & P Oakhill Construction, and Hodgson-Russ Attorneys-at-Law” said L. Nathan Hare, executive director. “The CAO is well underway in its pursuit of tax-credit financing, affordable housing and other grant resources needed to make the ultimate mortgage financing of the project affordable.”

Proposed site plan. Humboldt Parkway is to the right
The CAO worked closely with UB students in the School of Architecture and Planning to develop a design that would be most appropriate within the dense neighborhood. They recommended that all new development should maintain the sense of place and face the street. Two-way traffic was also encouraged to continue and infrastructure improvements should encourage walkability and bicycling. The large open porches were also a UB recommendation as they create a sense of “eyes on the street,” a concept made popular by urban planning writer, Jane Jacobs in her 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

Proposed Home Types/Styles
The overall plan is to build 90 to 100 housing units on the site. Additionally, the CAO may build their new headquarters, a resident’s community service center, youth services classrooms, and a Head Start Academy. The hospital building was just too large for the CAO’s needs and combined with the asbestos contamination, there wasn’t a viable option for them to reuse it.

Deaconess (c.1932)
Original Deaconess Hospital before the Humboldt Parkway building, c.1932
Same view as above,  November 2012
The CAO is also involved in the adjacent community in an attempt to foster good relationships and elevate the quality of the area for all residents. They have begun implementing a Home Improvement Resource Program (HIRP), which helps homeowners access energy efficiency and home improvement resources. “The overall goal of the CAO is to transform the Greater Martin Luther King, Jr. Park area into a community people are trying to move into, rather than trying to move from,” said Hare, “We’re hoping to improve 25% of the homes in that area in the next two years and through this strategy we can help improve the home values, there by creating a market for these homes with this development and improvements.” The target area for this initiative is illustrated in the map below.

The CAO already has a good track record in the neighborhood as they recently transformed the shuttered St. Martin Complex into a community with new housing and the reuse of three historic buildings on the site. If all goes according to plan, there should be some movement by November of this year. For additional photos of the Deaconess Hospital demolition click here for my Flickr page and for more photos of the adjacent neighborhood click here.

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