On Wednesday, Statler City, LLC and Preservation Buffalo Niagara held an event at the historic building to present their proposal for the future of the property to an estimated 125 civic leaders, developers, and elected officials. Statler City, LLC, headed by developer Mark Croce and businessman James Eagan, has been approved to purchase the building.
While the building is steeped in legal issues and many have called for its demolition, the group insists that saving would be the most sensible option. Citing the Memorial Auditorium as an example, the presentation pointed out that the costs for the City to mothball and eventually demolish the structure reached upwards of $20 million. “We’re facing falling terra cotta, and a falling roof” explained Statler City attorney Robert Knoer.
By investing now to stabilize the structure and open up the first few floors, the public would be saving money and providing the towers the opportunity to grow organically afterwards. It’s hard to imagine today, but Knoer pointed out that many called for the demolition of the historic Shea’s Theatre when it was entangled in many of the same issues facing the Statler. The treasured Buffalo landmark has made the kind of comeback that many hope the Statler will see as well.
“The Statler is a national significant building much beloved by Buffalonians. Preservation Buffalo Niagara is pleased to announce today our support of an effort to revive this vital building,” stated Henry McCartney, executive director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara. “The principals of Statler City LLC have done their homework, carefully studied the building and come up with a feasible plan. It is now time to show them our support and move forward with this effort to save the Statler.”
Preservation Buffalo Niagara has proposed an innovative funding mechanism for the $5.3 million necessary to complete stabilization work and help bring the Statler back to an active community role. Preservation Buffalo Niagara and Statler City LLC have advanced a “blended partnership” concept of community, philanthropic and government support to address the immediate “first phase” needs to stabilize the building’s exterior and address specific public safety issues.
“We believe this investment can and should be shared by a variety of community, government and philanthropic sources, a combination that is more than a traditional public /private partnership, one that establishes blended partnership,” explained Catherine Schweitzer, chair of Preservation Buffalo Niagara.
“Often times in our community we look for some outsider to ride in on a white horse and rescue us from our challenges. We have the capacity and commitment in our community to answer this challenge together,” she said.
And much like the beloved Sheas, Croce explained that the case for saving the Statler is an emotional one as well as a practical one. “The Statler is an integral part of our community, not simply for her historical and architectural significance, but for the role she has played for generations in this community, I want my son to be able to experience the Statler as my father and his father did before him,” explained Croce.