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Are Stars Aligning for Trico Reuse?

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"The Ice House"

With the news that The Krog Corp. has been granted exclusive rights to develop a hotel on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC), perhaps in an existing building, pieces have been falling into place to flesh out a related rumor that has been circulating in Buffalo development circles for several weeks.  That rumor, repeated by multiple sources, is that a “developer” has been working up a detailed plan to reuse most of Trico complex at Ellicott and Goodell streets.  Krog only says it is looking at vacant parcels and reuse of existing buildings and has not said if Trico is on their list.

Krog, with their experience as a partner at the Larkin Center of Commerce — one of Buffalo’s rare buildings that’s actually larger than Trico (and not by a little) — is clearly not afraid to take on the reuse of a building with the size and legacy issues such as Trico.

The BNMC has backed off on plans to expand the Innovation Center onto the Trico site.  It’s a significant change from earlier plans.

BNMC was on the verge of applying to the City to demolish the Trico complex but was convinced to have further discussions about alternatives with the preservation community.  Representatives from Preservation Buffalo Niagara, members of Campaign for Greater Buffalo and others with preservation, architectural, engineering and redevelopment experience met to look at the structural and environmental reports and recommend reuse options.    A Trico Complex Redevelopment Feasibility Study was commissioned to assess existing conditions and potential redevelopment strategies.

Last November, BNMC officials announced intentions to seek a development partner to help preserve Trico building No. 8 but demolish the remainder of the complex to build a new facility designed to meet the needs of current and future tenants of the Innovation Center.  Today, plans for a second Innovation Center have shifted north.

Campus officials are now looking to acquire the City-owned parking ramp at Ellicott and Goodrich streets to construct a mixed-use complex that includes a parking ramp topped by office and incubator space.  The complex would by anchored by Albany Molecular Research Inc. that is expanding to Buffalo.  The firm will be temporarily housed at 847 Main Street that the BNMC is expected to purchase from Krog.

In exchange for selling 847 Main Street and giving up plans to redevelop the site with parking, hotel and commercial space, Krog has been given exclusive rights to develop a 100 to 120-room extended-stay hotel on the medical campus.  The company says it is looking at both vacant sites and conversion of an existing building.

That news aligns with the recent talk of a developer being interested in Trico, though it is unknown how much of the complex would be reused.  Multiple sources say the “interested developer” would save all but the Ice House along Ellicott Street, the oldest portion of the complex.  It remains to be seen if Krog is indeed that developer.

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Written by WCPerspective

WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

1880 posts
  • jazzfan

    Interesting.  I’ve stayed at a couple of hotels that were former warehouses – the Westin St Louis and Hotel Square Phillips in Montreal.  Both are very nicely done with high ceilings, support columns incorporated into the room design and other architectural nuances of the past use retained.  I can see Trico working out similarly.  Would be a great re-use.

    • texpat

      I’ve also stayed at the Westin, although in the new wing.  It was well done.  I’ve stayed at the Sheraton also in STL and it is less well done.  Because it was such a large warehouse, half of the rooms have no exterior windows.  They look into the interior of the building which was cleared of floors to make atriums.  Guests want to be able to look out windows to see the weather conditions or views, not across an atrium at other room’s windows.  That is not optimal, but would likely have to be the case at Trico also.

  • Spock1

    Great news if there is any substance to rumors of Trico 1’s reuse.  The BNMC will get what they want, though at a different location, and the community will get to keep a landmark the public agreed to be of national historic significance.  Win win.

  • the beauty of trico is that it is so freaking huge that it can be anything, or a number of anythings.  if not a hotel, then lab, office, and retail space so that mccarley gardens does not have to be sacrificed.  fingers crossed.

    • tomcs

      grad94 Just curious on to what exactly is Mccauly Gardens (what type of housing, not that it matters, just curious) and why it needs to be saved. I realize people are currently living there and it is kept up. Is it city owned? Can someone legally buy it and do as they wish?

  • tomcs

    “In exchange for selling 847 Main Street and giving up plans to redevelop the site with parking, hotel and commercial space, Krog has been given exclusive rights to develop a 100 to 120-room extended-stay hotel on the medical campus.  The company says it is looking at both vacant sites and conversion of an existing building.”
    I don’t understand this.. They can pick and choose the developers around the campus? How much are they going to buy the city owned land for? Maybe I’m overreacting or not understanding fully the situation but it seems a little strange to me.

    • buffaloroam

      tomcs Yea I don’t fully understand that paragraph either. What I hear is that we are giving up a mixed use development at 847 Main St. and that in exchange for that Krog got exclusive rights to build a hotel somewhere. I guess we really don’t know how it is all going to pan out. Further, what is going to happen at 847 Main when Albany Molecular moves to their permanent home at the proposed new innovation and office space on the city owned parking ramp site.

      • tomcs

        buffaloroam tomcs Exactly! But I don’t fully understand the power of the BNMC. All their growth and development is great, but I don’t think they should be able to give someone exclusive rights. Where’s the bidding process? And then now effect 847 Main Street by it!

        • RaChaCha

          @tomcs @buffaloroam BNMC and its constituent entities (UB, Roswell, Hauptmann-Woodward, etc.) control the bulk of the real estate in the BNMC area.

        • tomcs

          RaChaCha Oh okay fair enough. But is the city just handing them over the parking garage? I haven’t been paying to close attention to this at all.

        • RaChaCha

          tomcs I don’t know — latest in Buffalo News didn’t get into that.  But I wouldn’t expect them to have problems with the City, especially since that garage is old, and the replacement would have more spaces:
          http://www.buffalonews.com/20130608/space_growing_scarce_at_a_medical_campus_seeking_its_niche.html

        • tomcs

          RaChaCha tomcs Thanks for the link. Very interesting. I think this is a great project, but it does seem a little weird holding off redeveloping 847 Main to use it as a temporary office. I would guess he would redevelop it once the company moves.

        • buffaloroam

          tomcs RaChaCha  
          It is also concerning that they are going to put 15 million into 847 main st. for a temporary home. that kinda seems like a huge waste of money or at the very least an expensive dedication to a building that i would much rather see gone.

        • tomcs

          buffaloroam tomcs RaChaCha woah really? I must have missed that. That building should have never been built.. but yes now it needs to be demolished, pretty much as soon as possible.. Although it may be the most “ready” site for this new company. Still $15 million is a huge investment as you say should be gone. This whole deal definitely seems a little strange. And I don’t really know if it is going to be a net positive or a net zero for development.

  • BuildBuffalo

    How many of you are going to raise your pitch forks about the ice house since its most likely a demo? Even though everything else will say there.

    • David Steele

      BuildBuffalo First tell me this. Which beautifully restored  historic building saved from demolition  are you still itching to have torn down?

      • BuildBuffalo

        Every grain elevator

        • micahh64

          BuildBuffalo  
          Including the ones in use?
          .

        • David Steele

          BuildBuffalo  None of them have been restored. None have been saved from demolition.  Try again.  What beautiful renovated historic building are you still itching to have torn down?

        • BuildBuffalo

          micahh64 BuildBuffalo all the run down ugly ones…

        • BuildBuffalo

          David Steele BuildBuffalo Delaware court for Uniland project

        • David Steele

          BuildBuffalo David Steele Let us try again.  Which renovated not any longer run down and ugly ones do you still want torn down?

  • I say throw 1,500 apartments in there and be done with it! Big and small, condos, studios, two to three bedroom units, etc. Make the whole thing residential with ground floor retail: Larkin style exterior. There is so much demand in this area. Thousands of new workers and students are coming to this district. There’s no reason this can’t be done. The absorption rate would be impressively quick, given this is the fastest growing district in upstate NY.

  • GotAnyChange

    They just do not make buildings like trico anymore. Really hoping someone can make it work.

  • AllentownChris

    The only portion of the icehouse that is visible is one exterior brick and sandstone wall – why not save that?

    • RaChaCha

      AllentownChris Indeed!

  • JSmith11

    Hmm. I swear I remember being told that the concrete was irrevocably contaminated with toxic chemicals.

    • solonggone

      JSmith11 Has there been a report that has shown this to be 100% false?  Great news if so but have yet to see anything that says this.

      • GotAnyChange

        The same can be said the other way. Have we seen a report proving its true? See how that works?

        • solonggone

          GotAnyChange What are you 7?
          It’s not the same.  There is a negative notion out there on this building.  Proving it does not exist is much more importing than saying prove it does.  Perception is reality kid.

        • GotAnyChange

          Your logic is backwards, kid. The burden of proof lies with the person making the original claim. Otherwise, I could say something like, “trico is contaminated!” Jsmith says “I don’t believe it is.” If I replied to him, “prove it’s not!”, I would be an idiot, because the burden of proof would be on me to begin with. It’s possible it is contaminated, but my point is no one here seems to have seen evidence.
          Sorry for seeming snarky, but The argument you are implying is logically preposterous.

        • RaChaCha

          GotAnyChange “It’s possible it is contaminated, but my point is no one here seems to have seen evidence.”
          .
          See my comment below about the consultants’ work last year.

        • GotAnyChange

          Thanks, I saw that after I had posted.

        • solonggone

          GotAnyChange 
          Wrong.   This is not a court of law.  It’s a court of public opinion.  
          Just the idea of contamination could be enough for some developers/buyers to walk away.  This harms the development opportunity.  Buildings have been demolished for much less.
          I am happy to hear that the contamination issue is not an issue but still stand by my point that simply having an issue like contamination mentioned on a property is enough to sink it.  
          If this was converted to residential I can guarantee you the question would be asked every single time to the listing agent and even with the report…some would not trust it and look elsewhere.

        • GotAnyChange

          It seems the bnmc, who owns the complex, named contamination as one of the reasons they wanted to tear it down. Since they already own the property, and they themselves seemed to initiate the contamination rumor, in this case it’s not a matter of public opinion but just an issue of fact (is it contaminated to a fault or is it not). Fact is what would influence the pbn board’s recommendations. If they want to tear it down using contamination as an excuse, it is their burden.
          Of course, my facts may be fuzzy on the issue. But that is my understanding of the situation.
          Anyways, go trico.

        • bufguy

          I was told its haunted, and aliens have an outpost on the 5th floor, therfeore it would be impossible to reuse as the public perception would always be negative.
          My point…You can say anything about the building

    • Michael DiPasquale

      JSmith11 
      And did you here about the “exploding bricks” that were supposed to be at Canalside?

    • RaChaCha

      JSmith11 Far be it for me to tell tales out of school, but the consultants, who spent last summer going over the building with a fine-tooth comb, reported to the Trico Roundtable last fall that the environmentals were not out of line with what you would expect to find with any old, former industrial building.
      .
      The good work done last year really gave the lie to the structural and environmental scare stories that had gotten out there about Trico.

      • pampiniform

        RaChaCha JSmith11 
        I read the report dated 10/01/12, which I presume is the study produced by the same consultants you mention there.  According to that report, all they did was a visual inspection of the site.  They did mention that previous studies had found evidence of common stuff like lead paint and asbestos.  They also mentioned there are a lot of places that contain semi volatile organic compounds and elevated levels of PCBs.  They themselves did not do any samples.  They did recommended further samples be taken.  
        That is quite a bit different than what you’re claiming.  I frankly don’t care one way or the other what happens to Trico.  But the possibility of contamination with PCBs is serious business.  Just google it you want to see how much trouble they can be.  Or ask GE.  
        I don’t know if those samples ever were taken, since I couldn’t find any results posted  anywhere.  But if the place turns out to be seriously contaminated with them, that could be a big problem.  The cost of remediating the place could wind up being very expensive.  The survey done in that report indicated a number of areas of concern scattered throughout the building.  That cost could very well be a huge detraction from anyone wanting to reuse the building.  Or say that someone who works/lives in the place develops a health issue down the road that could be reasonably be associated with exposure to PCBs or organic compounds, and brings a lawsuit against the developers?

    • 300miles

      JSmith11   Adds more fuel to the common suspicion about developer “studies” that say buildings are beyond repair… or even just uneconomical for that matter.   Suddenly *poof* the condemned building is ripe for re-use.   Imagine that.

      • RaChaCha

        @300miles Indeed. Much wisdom in your comment there is.

  • walters14150

    I say bottom floor wegmans, then apartments/offices up stairs, downtown needs a major grocery store.

    • lafayette1985

      walters14150 I think that idea is perfect. A wegmans or target would be a perfect fit.  It would be close enough for downtown residents to do their shopping as well as for people at the medical campus.  I could definitely picture a large store on the bottom with apartments for the rest.

      • greenca

        lafayette1985 walters14150

        Not to be a Debbie Downer, but the reality is that there
        isn’t yet a residential population large enough downtown to support a store the
        size of Wegmans or Target. Urban stores
        presently being opened by Wegmans (e.g., in Boston) are in
        high-density/high-income areas of the city.Downtown Buffalo isn’t quite there yet.

        • lafayette1985

          There is a decent amount of people living downtown and the surrounding region.  A store in trico would also service allentown, east side as well as parts of elmwood village.  And it is accessible by bus and the subway.  I think that a place would be smart to jump into the fray now since downtown housing is only going to expand based on current trends.  If anything a store coming in might entice people who otherwise would skip over the area.  Also, it would provide jobs for people in the area.  Its not in the east side but could still be an employer for east side residents.  Although most of the jobs at a target or wegmans are not high paying, they are still good employers with decent health benefits.  If nothing else, it could be a job for high school and college students in the immediate area as well.

        • walters14150

          greenca lafayette1985 walters14150 there are plenty people that would frequent a grocery store downtown, there are more people living down town then you think and more t come. not to mention when do a lot of people do their shopping? On their way home from work. With the medical campus being so close they would make a killing with after work shoppers, workers on lunch and downtown residents!

  • buffalorr

    Another big step forward in the effort to save Trico. Todays Buffalo News reporting that Krog is indeed making a bid for the development rights. Another win in keeping an irreplaceable “urban built to the street” building from being demolished. Also another step in preventing Buffalo from becoming just another small town in appearance rather than the great city it was and is now coming back to

  • AllentownChris

    buffalorr They are running low on the supply of old buildings to renovate.

  • buffalorr

    AllentownChris, Actually- I think you’re on to something!

  • AllentownChris

    buffalorr In the CBD at least, I can’t think of any other large buidings other than Trico and AM&As that aren’t renovated, under renovation or in the hands of a developer who plans renovation.

  • warehousedweller

    I HAVE A BUILDING THAT WAS BUILT BY THE N.Y. TELEPHONE CO. IN 1913 AND1926 WITH BLUPRINTS ! 10 MORE YEARS ! UNLESS A CRAZY OFFER COMES IN. 16,000 SQ. FEET. NEAR EAST SIDE.