Niagara Gazette

Local News

December 8, 2012

Memorial facility slated for former Evelyn Apartments now heading to Highland Avenue

Niagara Gazette —

A new state-of-the-art health center that was set to be built in the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center's 10th Street corridor will now be going up in the city's North End.

Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc., the not-for-profit that operates the Community Health Center of Niagara Falls out of the Hamilton B. Mizer Primary Care Center on 10th Street, revealed plans to build right next door to the Mizer building in early June. The organization planned to move out of the dated Mizer building and into the new facility upon completion. Those plans came shortly after U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., announced in May that the not-for-profit would receive a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to build the health center.

But Avery Bates, a spokesperson for the not-for-profit, presented plans to build the facility at 2715 Highland Ave. at a planning board meeting in early December. He said that the change in plans was the result of the not-for-profit's need to hit deadlines tied to the federal grant. The board passed a recommendation to the city council asking the city to sell the property to the not-for-profit so that they can move forward with the project and retain the grant.

"We were at risk of not receiving those funds," Bates said.

The not-for-profit had risked losing the grant earlier this year as well. The 10th Street site is home to the Evelyn Apartments, a 96-year-old building where former Niagara Gazette publisher Hamilton B. Mizer and Lily Rush, the first woman to earn a master's degree at Niagara University, once lived. 

The building was on the local registry for historic properties until June when the city council amended the city's historic preservation ordinance, allowing the council to strip historic sites of their local designation without the approval of the City of Niagara Falls Commission on Historic Preservation, the body with the authority to grant and rescind the local designation. That designation provides strong protections against demolition. The council amended the ordinance in an effort to expedite the land transfer from the hospital to the not-for-profit and meet the deadlines tied to the federal grant.

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