APRIL FOOLS: Ciminelli buys Buffalo State, school to close in 2020

Ashley Ziomek, Reporter

The news isn’t fake…but today it is. This story is a part of our annual April Fool’s coverage, The Wreckard. It’s not true. It’s not factual. It’s all in good fun.

Happy April Fool’s Day!


Strange things are afoot at 1300 Elmwood Avenue.

After three years of indecisive bargaining, SUNY Buffalo State has agreed to a deal with Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation, and the campus will soon be closing their doors to the tune of $150 million.

The deal was finalized on March 20, 2018, however the college will remain open through the spring of 2020.

“We want to develop new sites for the Elmwood Village, while keeping integrity and fundamentals intact,” said William Preston, spokesperson for Ciminelli.

However, purchasing the 125-acre campus was not an easy feat for the company, according to Preston.

The college has been in the midst of a $350 million renovation since 2011, which was to be completed by 2017. These new features include dormitories, a new technology building, and touchups to already existing buildings on the campus.

As of March 2018, the renovations remain incomplete, and students have begun to steer away from registering for classes with Buffalo State. Upperclassmen of the college have been asked to move off campus if they have 90 credits or more in their coursework.

With no funding left to complete their project, and students rapidly straying away, the SUNY school had no choice but to accept the only offer presented to them.

Enter Ciminelli.

A company known for pushing limits within the city of Buffalo, especially in and around the Elmwood Village area. In 2016, the company purchased eleven properties near Bidwell Parkway and Elmwood Avenue, including commercial and residential structures, from village local Donald Leone.

Shortly after this purchase, the company took on the Zoning Board of Appeals in Buffalo, with hopes to build structures that were questionable in relation to the city’s Green Code.

The Green Code was established in April of 2010, and is a community-driven push to keep intact the integrity of the district, as well as keep fair standards across the board. The code states that buildings in the Elmwood Village may not exceed three stories, whereas Ciminelli was looking to build up to four and five stories high.

This push against the Green Code led to rallies, board meetings, and protests to keep the village as it was, while Ciminelli searched for any solution to continue their projects in the Elmwood area. The company was met with such heat, they ended up changing their lead architect to try and regain good standing with the people of Buffalo.

“We are very much aware that our project needs to compliment the existing neighborhood,” said Anne Greene, Assistant Vice President of marketing and public relations for Ciminelli.

But locals disagree with the agenda of the company and the direction they will take with their newly acquired property.

“This is mass destruction,” said Theodore Logan, a resident of Elmwood Village.

Over the past few years, residents have seen condos and new store fronts appear, and now worry about a proposed three-story parking garage being plopped into the center of the historic village.

With the new purchase of Buffalo State, it has been suggested the parking structure be added to an area on the campus, still a walkable distance from the heart of the village.

But how will the closing of Buffalo State and loss of thousands of students effect the Elmwood Village economy?

“There will be significantly less foot traffic,” Logan said . “The local businesses who benefit from foot traffic and window shopping will take a huge hit, but I suppose we don’t really know what’s in store for the Buffalo State area yet either.”

Luckily before any changes are made, a designated Buffalo agency will conduct a review following the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). This designated agency will conduct series of investigations into any proposed ideas, and will select only those they feel will have a cumulative impact on the neighborhood.

“This is a surgical demolition around historical landmarks,” said Greene, explaining the goal was not to destroy but to modernize.

There is one last effort to try and save the structures residing within the campus, coming from the nearby Elmwood Village Association (EVA). The goal of the EVA is to improve the quality of life within the Elmwood Village. They are pushing to have the school identified as a historical landmark, which would prevent Ciminelli from any demolition or reconstruction on the campus.

This meeting is set for April 1, 2019.