Below is the text from the article (linked above) that appeared in the Buffalo News today from the Buffalo News Editorial Board. The BNMC should be working with the community to make the best decision for the building, the medical campus and the City. The BNMC has had the community in the dark for years on this building. This structure is Iconic and the plan of demolition deserves to be re – examined.
The proposed demolition of the iconic Trico Products building warrants re-examination by Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus officials.
At stake is a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places where thousands of workers made windshield wipers until the plant closed in March 2004.
The Medical Campus wants to demolish most of the building in four stages, beginning April 15, to expand its footprint. Twenty percent of the building’s newest addition, which is now landmarked, would be spared. That part houses the Innovation Center, a technology incubator near full occupancy.
Tim Tielman, a member of the Buffalo Preservation Board, has deemed the Trico building a “must save.” He says the building is “eminently adaptable” and the Medical Campus should be exploring ways to reuse it.
Both sides in this dispute should take some time to listen to each other’s concerns before the wrecking ball swings into action. Preservation Buffalo Niagara, after four meetings with Medical Campus representatives, expressed regret that its offers of assistance were rejected and that a phased demolition was going forward. Medical Campus President and CEO Matthew Enstice, in turn, expressed surprise in a voicemail message left with The News that Preservation Buffalo Niagara decided to go public with its criticism.
It’s fair to say that, at some level, there has been a failure to communicate. An environmental attorney and member of the Preservation Board is talking about regulatory hurdles that would slow the demolition timetable, including a state environmental review that, if done hastily, could be subject to a lawsuit.
Western New York is notorious for that knee-jerk response to any proposal, and is one reason it takes so long to get anything accomplished.
A far better approach would be for the Medical Campus to follow the model used at Erie Canal Harbor. There the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. carved out a compromise with its toughest critics after involving them in the decision-making.
If the Medical Campus has plans for the space that will force demolition of the Trico building, officials should make those plans known so they can be part of the decision. If there is a plan, there should also be a study of whether refurbishing the Trico building is an option. If there are no urgent plans for that location except as a parking lot, there should be no rush to knock the building down.
Trico is not another Frank Lloyd Wright or H.H. Richardson masterpiece; it is just a work space from another century. But a look at some of the restored buildings that now add to the city’s architectural legacy shows why we shouldn’t be in a hurry to knock down an old factory: the Larkin at Exchange Building, the former Lafayette and Statler hotels, the Lofts at Elk Terminal, the Granite Works and the Webb Building.
We have long endorsed the expansion of the Medical Campus as a new economic engine for Western New York. At the same time we have pointed out the need to preserve our historic architecture. Those two needs intersect at the Trico building, and it is up to the Medical Campus to explain why we can’t have both.