The Krog Corp. is heading to the Preservation Board on Thursday seeking approvals to demolish the oldest building of the Trico complex. Building No. 1, a brownstone structure on Ellicott Street built in the 1890’s, is “unsound” according to Krog. The demolition work would set the stage for what is expected to be a $50 million mixed-use complex consisting of an extended-stay hotel, residential units, and commercial space.
Building No. 1 is the ice house of the former Weyand Brewing Company plant that stood on the site. The Trico complex grew around and on top of the ice house over time.
The future of the entire Trico complex has been in flux since the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) and the University at Buffalo purchased the former M. Wile Co. and Trico buildings for $20.09 million in 2007. Title to the Trico complex was subsequently transferred to the Buffalo Brownfield Restoration Corp., a quasi-public agency.
While the M. Wile Co. building now serves as the UB Downtown Gateway, the Trico complex remained unoccupied while BNMC and local preservationists battled over reuse of the site. Vacant since 1999, the Trico complex was placed on the State Historic Registry in 2000 and the National Historic Registry in 2001.
Early last year, Krog stepped forward with a reuse plan for the property. Krog’s experience as a partner at the Larkin Center of Commerce — one of Buffalo’s rare buildings that is actually larger than Trico— is clearly not afraid to take on the reuse of a building with the size and legacy issues such as Trico. Krog is likely to seek historic preservation tax credits for the project.
From the demolition application:
Currently the building is in poor condition. Portions of the structure has been without a roof for over 10 years allowing water to penetrate throughout the entire building exposing the interior to numerous freeze-thaw cycles over the years. This is just one of the contributing factors cited in an engineering report commissioned by Krog that identifies that the oldest portions of the building are structurally unsound and are on the verge of collapse and must be demolished. Our plan for the building, inclusive of demolition was approved by Mr. Julian Adams for the New York State SHPO [State Historic Preservation Office] and the National Parks Service in March of this year.
Some history of the building from the Trico Complex Redevelopment Feasibility Study (2012) prepared by Architectural Resources, Foit Albert Associates and Doug Swift Development:
The original four-story, 40,000 square foot brewery building’s brownstone and brick facade can still be seen from Ellicott Street surrounded by newer parts of the factory, and is known as Building No. 1. The building is a load bearing masonry structure and was constructed in the 1890’s for the Weyand Brewing Company at a time when several large breweries were located in a predominantly German American neighborhood.
Christian Weyand (1826-1898), a German speaking shoemaker from the Lorraine region in eastern France had earlier partnered with John Schetter to start the brewing business. Shortly after the inception of the partnership his two sons joined him in the business. Weyand expanded the brewery to a capacity of over one million barrels per year, and built the ice house as a storage facility. The ice house is the only surviving part of the Weyand Brewery, and [Trico founder] Oishei’s decision to adapt and reuse the brewery building preserves one of the few remnants of Buffalo’s once flourishing beer-making industry.
Deterioration of the building has been a known concern. The 2012 report noted the issues:
This building evinces signs of decay within the masonry at the sixth floor level and structural distress in portions of the remaining masonry at the lower levels. Beginning in the parapets, there is complete decay of the masonry of the south wall progressing downward into the sixth floor.
The parapets have collapsed and the wall is collapsing, with daylight visible from the sixth floor level. Conditions from moisture are better as one moves downward until the first floor. Large amounts of masonry have been removed from the south load-bearing wall to provide access to adjacent Building 8, leaving masonry columns to support the framing of Building 1.
This wall is several wythes thick at this level. Several of these columns are exhibiting structural distress in the form of multiple vertical cracks through the bricks and progressing through all the wythes, evidencing the cracks on both sides. This is a serious condition that raises a question as to the continuing and future structural capacity of these elements. Deferring action indefinitely in addressing this issue could result in a collapse of a portion of the building unit.
Krog officials are still working on the final details for the redevelopment project. One option for the Building No. 1 site is a courtyard according to a source not authorized to speak on behalf of the developer.
The Preservation Board meets Thursday at 3 pm in City Hall Room 901.