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Trico Demolition Plan (Updated)

In the last week or so, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has been showing folks this picture, which describes a phased demolition plan for Trico Plant #1, the former industrial complex it purchased in 2007:

The plan suggests that BNMC would like to begin demolition on April 15, though the issue does not yet appear on the agendas of any city planning agencies. The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture and Culture has been readying for the fight to save this building, and Preservation Buffalo Niagara released a statement this morning:

Preservation Buffalo Niagara is appreciative of the opportunity to have met with the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) director regarding the National Register-listed Trico Plant #1 Building. Our part in the discussion involved the offer to assist in educating those involved as to the historic preservation opportunities regarding reuse of the building and the State and Federal regulatory processes involved with National Register Listed sites. Additionally we offered to assist in seeking funding to finance a historic preservation adaptive reuse study for the Trico Plant #1 Building.
The BNMC has declined these offers of assistance. We recognize and regret that, since the building is not protected by local landmark designation, the designated developer’s stated desire to demolish the building will likely occur without requesting permission from the city’s Preservation Board. We understand that an agreement for a phased demolition of the building has been executed and may soon be implemented. It is also our understanding that no plans have been made for the immediate reuse of the site. We are disappointed that this decision has been made without the availability of a reuse study determining the feasibility of a historic preservation rehab of the building. Preservation Buffalo Niagara feels strongly that expending the time and resources to determine ways to preserve historic buildings in our community should be a priority when deciding the future of such buildings. Furthermore, we believe that a larger community discussion regarding decisions of this nature is required given the designated developer’s standing in the community as well as the historic significance of the Trico Plant #1 Building.
We wish that we would have had the opportunity to participate earlier in the discussions so that we could have provided access to such information before the decision for demolition was made. We continue to offer our assistance to provide education to the BNMC and any other building owner regarding preservation and preservation related matters such as historic preservation reuse studies.

That statement, by the way, marks Tom Yots’s first public action as PBN’s new executive director. More on this issue tomorrow and in Thursday’s paper.

UPDATE: We’re still waiting to hear from Matt Enstice, executive director of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, but the Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture and Culture has just released this statement:

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, in concert with the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, chaired by Mayor Byron Brown, is proposing a demolition schedule for the huge and iconic Trico Plant Number 1, which occupies almost two square blocks on the northern edge of downtown. BUDC and the BNMC propose to start demolition in mid-April, internal documents show. Public records show the building is owned by BUDC.  The Campaign for Greater Buffalo strenuously opposes any demolition of the National Register-listed building, and will pursue all means to preserve the landmark.

Trico Plant No. 1. has a great deal of meaning for thousands of Western New Yorkers, those who worked there and their children, many of whom owe their college educations and careers to the generosity of Trico founder John Oishei. It occupies a full city block and more at a strategic location between downtown, the Fruitbelt, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, (BNMC)  and Allentown.

As such, the building could serve as a catalyst for physical and social renewal. Instead, while BUDC has been a terrible steward of the building. Rather than rehabilitate it like similar buildings across the street and across the city, BUDC and BNMC decided under the previous administration that, for their purposes, the building should be demolished and become a parking lot pending possible development. The building, where work had begun to transform it into a multi-use complex featuring condominiums, had several bidders at an auction upon the death of the previous owner. BUDC ended up with it, for the sole purpose of facilitating its demolishing . It has made no attempt to repair or maintain the building despite pre-purchase knowledge of conditions.

The proposal for demolition beginning on April 15th is absurd and illegal. No public notices have been issued, and no required communication, let alone an application for demolition, has been made to the Preservation Board, which would require a public hearing. We urge the mayor, Common Council, and all elected representatives to put a stop to this immediately and to put the building on the road to rehabilitation in a way that serves not only the BNMC, but the adjacent residential neighborhoods and downtown businesses. What the city needs is a building that integrates itself into the fabric of the community and strengthens it, not another gaping hole in that fabric.

The building is structurally sound and is in no danger of collapse.  It is a strong building that can endure.  The building could easily be converted to new uses that would benefit the community and the owners. Many similar factory buildings in Buffalo, and elsewhere, have been adapted for other purposes, like the Trico plant on Main Street that is now the Tri-Main Center, the Larkin at Exchange building, 79 Perry Street in the Cobblestone District, and, indeed, the M. Wile Building directly across Washington Street.

In addition, as the building is on the National Register and meets many criteria for local listing as well, any project the adversely effects the building would require a full Environmental Impact Statement under the State Environmental Quality Review Act. Similarly, if there is any Federal funding or regulatory action involved, a demolition project would require review under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. It would also have to be in compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act. Finally, if any state funding is involved, or any action by a state agency, a review by the State historic preservation officer, under the New York State Historic Preservation Act, is necessary.


  • Bruce Beyer

    One step closer to the demolition of McCarley Gardens.

  • Paul Buckley

    Someone should explain that – when the previous owner removed the mechanical systems from the roof and exposed the entire building to the elements – Trico’s accumulated pollutants and poisons spread from the floors to nearly every nook and cranny in the building. It is impossible to find reuse for this facility because it is impossible to restore it to a non-toxic level.

    Secondly, this giant building (and the adjacent Catholic Center) blocks what is truly a gorgeous Buffalo icon – St. Louis Church. Let’s knock down both buildings and bring back the site lines that would truly make a trip to the end of the Kensington a worthwhile view.

  • NCD

    A reuse of the Trico building could be done at enormously less cost than demolishing it and eventually building somthing new, assuming the money to do so is conned out of NY State. And therein lies the problem – where is the money for Ciminelli and Friends in that?. Not much money compared to building new…

    The whole function of this BS project is to maximize the money spent building what already exists using government money. It is Keynsianism for the rich, and the result will be a need for ever greater expenditures of state and federal money to operate the thing. Meanwhile, the probability of students graduating into a job that actually requires college degrees keeps shrinking, probably inversely proportionally to the price of crude oil. And also to pay for these new buildings, higher tuition is needed, from a country that is generally getting poorer, though a tiny minority are pigging out at the trough (see today’s Morning Grumpy for an excellent story on that).

    But, never fear, we can recruit some rich people from India and China to fill that void……..

    Who says colleges in the US have to be for US citizens, anyway? Especially ditto that for New York State…


  • saltecks

    I’m looking at:

    Buffalo Architecture: A Guide. by Banham, Beverigde, and Hitchcock 2nd printing 1982, MIT press. Personally, it is the best compilation of Buffalo Architecture (still standing and long gone) that I have seen. Trico Plant # 2 on main is included, But this building is NOT even mentioned.

    Classic Buffalo, A Heritage of Distinguished Architecture, Olenick and Reisem, Canisius College Press 1999. Also NO mention of this building.

  • Adaptive Reuse Studies are pointless unless you have someone with the money and will to develop the property.

    It’s Buffalo. We need to stop pretending that those people are a dime a dozen and take development when we can get it.

  • Nickel City Joe

    Matt: BNMC will develop the Innovation Center regardless of whether they demolish TRICO. Acres of surface parking across the street from the current innovation center and the TRICO building are ripe for a new building and underground parking.

    And, a reuse study is not pointless. Kaleida has brought in the Urban Land Institute to conduct a reuse study and support the RFP process for the Gates Circle Hospital, and the study found that Kaleida will save $4.5M by reusing all the 400,000 square feet historic buildings at the site. I’m not strictly against demolition of TRICO, but I think this publicly funded entity owes it to the community to bring in a reuse expert to conduct a transparent, serious study of reuse options before beginning a demolition on a recognized historic building.

  • Nickel City Joe

    Also, because TRICO is listed on the National Historic Register – there is a 20% state and 20% federal tax credit available for reuse development. This contrasts with the Gates Circle Hospital, which I don’t believe is eligible for historic preservation tax credits.

  • curious cat

    Someone modified the Trico Wikipedia entry March 9.

    Here’s how the entry starts: Trico is an American company that specializes in windshield wipers. Trico, then Tri-Continental Corporation, invented the windshield wiper blade in 1917.[1] Its original Trico Plant No. 1 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[2]

    Here’s how it ends: “In 2002, Trico closed its “Plant #1″ in Buffalo, New York. This ended a nearly 20 year process of shifting its production to Mexico. The building is currently being redeveloped as part of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.”

    Is that part new? Is redevelop a synonym for demolish? h