Termini takes aim at Trico building – Buffalo News

Termini takes aim at Trico building Say medical campus can do better than demolish it – Buffalo News (March 23, 2012) – Link

The developer who has had the most success in converting downtown industrial structures said the Trico Products building can be redeveloped — and he could be interested in doing it.

Rocco Termini, who has converted a half-dozen empty buildings into lofts, and currently is finishing the restoration of the Hotel at the Lafayette, said he would be interested if pending legislation that would raise the cap on state preservation tax credits passes.

“Is it possible to redevelop [Trico]? Yes, it is. I have some ideas; I don’t have a plan. If we can get the state to lift the $5 million cap on the tax credits, the building can be done. I am looking at it now, and told [Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus officials] that,” Termini said.

“I also think there would be a lot of people interested if we could get the cap lifted.”

Termini said the medical campus, the Trico site’s designated developer, needs to put the brakes on demolition.

“They’re looking for someone to immediately take over the building and show them the money, and that’s not going to happen. This is going to take two years, if you’re lucky. It’s a long process,” Termini said.

“Quite frankly, they have no plans for the site. I don’t see what the urgency is to tear it down.”

The medical campus acquired the building in 2007 and then transferred the title to a city agency to avoid liability. Officials have said their interest has been primarily to build a second, laboratory-friendly Center for Innovation, and to take ownership of parking space.

Termini said the medical campus could help facilitate Trico’s revival by using some of the space for offices or even having one floor removed to allow for the higher ceilings the medical campus says are needed for laboratories. He also said the medical campus was making it harder on a would-be developer by not including parking.

“They want to use the parking for future development, and won’t allow it to be used. But it’s pretty difficult to develop that building when there is no parking anywhere around it,” he said.

Termini and preservationists say a re-use study for the Trico building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, would be valuable.

Preliminary plans for potential re-use were done in 2011 by Carmina Wood Morris, a local architecture and engineering firm. It was performed for a client who was interested in putting in a hotel, residential units, shared parking and expanding the Innovation Center.

Architect Jonathan Morris said the conceptual plans involved the potential for taking part of the building down and providing a shovel-ready site, along with structured parking.

Morris said the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation indicated the plans, even with the partial demolition, still could be eligible for the preservation tax credits.

“They were willing to work with us because we were keeping the original Trico Plant No. 1 building, demoing parts of later additions and restoring the original brewery [located in the middle of the complex],” Morris said.

The Buffalo Preservation Board on Thursday voted unanimously to give the Trico Products building local landmark status.

The board’s advisory recommendation means it will go next to a Common Council Legislative Committee for consideration.

Local landmark status would allow the board, in its advisory capacity, to have more input into decisions, according to Paul McDonnell, the president of the Preservation Board.

“Any reviews — whether on re-use, renovation and especially demolition — would have to come to the Preservation Board. The decision-making and discussion will happen on the local level, and Buffalonians will have a say,” McDonnell said.

Currently, the board can only make recommendations on a demolition order that comes before it. The Common Council also would have more say in the dispensation of the building.

McDonnell said he was bothered by Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus officials’ acknowledgment that they bought the building in 2007 without planning to use most of the huge structure.

“Why would they buy a building on the National Register, anticipating it would be demolished?” he said.

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