Trico Demolition Plan (Updated)
by Geoff Kelly - posted 12:18 pm, March 6, 2012
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.