Downtown businessman Mark Croce is making a bid for the Statler. He is teaming with James Eagan and has submitted a purchase offer on the venerable Niagara Square landmark for $200,000. The duo would also assume outstanding taxes on the structure, pegged at $500,000. The 18-story, circa-1923 former hotel has been vacant since earlier this year.
“Mark owns significant property in and around the Statler. This is a building that is very important to the neighborhood and the community.” – Robert Knoer, Mark Croce’s attorney.
The court-appointed trustee in the Statler bankruptcy case, Morris Horwitz, will ask a U.S. bankruptcy court judge to set a date for a sale hearing for the Niagara Square landmark. That hearing is planned for Aug. 9.
Other parties could still come forward and outbid Croce and Eagan. But if their partnership succeeds in acquiring the Statler, it could give new direction to a property that has been in limbo ever since the high bidder at an auction held a year ago failed to complete the $1.3 million purchase. The Statler was mothballed early this year, in the face of dwindling funds to operate it under the oversight of the trustee.
Croce has 20 years experience with downtown development and a key to the building’s reuse- adjacent parking. Croce purchased a surface parking lot directly north of the Statler in September 2006. He also bought the City Tower site on S. Elmwood Avenue from Bashar Issa. Croce announced plans for a mixed-use parking ramp/office structure for that lot earlier this year. Eagan is a partner and executive vice president of Midwood Financial Services. Both serve on the NFTA Board of Directors.
Croce and Eagan are opting not to discuss specific reuse plans for the 750,000 sq.ft. property until a sale is completed.