Contact your Council Member regarding TRICO’s Landmark Status!

Below is the contact information for every council member. We’ve received a template letter from the ‘Trico Citizens Coalition’ that can be used to notify the individuals below via mail, here is a word version and pdf version of that letter. Please focus your thoughts and comments to Mr. Pridgen since the Trico Plant is located in his district. Thank you for all of your continued support! SAVE TRICO!

Darius G. Pridgen – Ellicott District Common Council Member
1408 City Hall, Buffalo NY 14202
Phone: 716-851-4980 ♦ Fax: (716)851-6576
Email: dpridgen@city-buffalo.com

Richard A. Fontana – Council President – Lovejoy District Common Council Member
1315 City Hall, Buffalo NY 14202
Phone: 716-851-5151 ♦  Fax: (716)851-5141
E-mail: rfontana@city-buffalo.com

David A. Franczyk – Fillmore District Common Council Member
1316A City Hall, Buffalo NY 14202
Phone: 716-851-4138 ♦ Fax: (716)851-4869
E-mail: dfranczyk@city-buffalo.com

Joseph Golombek, Jr. – North District Common Council Member
1502 City Hall, Buffalo NY 14202
Phone: 716-851-5116
Fax: 716-851-5648
Email: jgolombek@city-buffalo.com

Michael P. Kearns – South District Common Council Member
1401 City Hall, Buffalo NY 14202
Phone: 716-851-5169 ♦ Fax: (716)851-4294
E-mail: mkearns@city-buffalo.com

Michael J. LoCurto – Delaware District Common Council Member
1405 City Hall, Buffalo NY 14202
Phone: 716-851-5155 ♦ Fax:  716-851-4553
E-mail: mlocurto@city-buffalo.com

David A. Rivera – Niagara District Common Council Member
1504 City Hall, Buffalo NY 14202
Phone: 716-851-5125
Fax: 716-851-4970
Email: darivera@city-buffalo.com

Bonnie E. Russell – President Pro Tempore, University District Common Council Member
1508 City Hall, Buffalo NY
Phone: 716-851-5165
Fax: 716-851-4580
Email: brussell@city-buffalo.com

Demone A. Smith – Majority Leader – Masten District Common Council Member

1414 City Hall, Buffalo NY 14202
Phone: 716-851-5145
Fax: 716-851-5443
Email: dsmith@city-buffalo.com

RECAP: Local Landmark Meeting – Details, News & Thoughts…

Well, that was exciting!

On Tuesday, over 50 concerned citizens, activists and organizations came together in the Buffalo City Hall common council chambers to discuss Trico’s future as a local landmark. It took two hours to get through the public hearing and to listen to all the public comments.

A quick note of clarification – Tuesday’s public hearing took place during a Common Council Legislative Committee Meeting, not a general Common Council Meeting. Confusing, we know. To better understand the process, we recommend that you check out this flow chart that details the legislative path for local landmark designation applications. Tuesday’s meeting is represented by the third box from the end on this chart.

Rendering by Nicholas Tyler Miller

Here are the details:

Most attendees that spoke were in full support of landmarking Trico including Preservation Buffalo Niagara, Rocco Termini, the Campaign for Greater Buffalo, Occupy Buffalo as well as many other concerned citizens. Many citizens spoke on how this building is important to our historic fabric, how Trico can be a great economic driver in the area and that other areas of the city, and country for that matter, have the same types of buildings that are not only wanted but have also been rehabbed successfully! An estimated total of 30 people spoke in-favor of the landmarking status for Trico.

Only 5 people spoke against making Trico a local landmark, which included Matt Enstice (BNMC), Terry Gilbride (Hodgson Russ – BNMC’s attorney), a tenant of the Innovation Center (who claimed to be a real estate ‘expert’) and two residents from the Fruit Belt neighborhood. The BNMC’s attorney ran down a list of chemicals supposedly located in the building, however did not address the fact that the BNMC is responsible for cleaning up the chemicals regardless of what they ultimately do with the building. Scare tactic? We think so. Nice try.

Didn’t make the meeting? Check it out on UStream. Here are some highlights: public hearing for Trico starts at 31:50, Rocco Termini – 34:25, Tim Tielman (Preservation Board) – 41:56, Frank Kowsky (author of the National Register nomination for Trico) – 49:52, Dana Saylor – 1:05:24, Terry Robinson – 1:08:00, David Torke (Eastside Resident) – 1:20:15, Matt Enstice – 1:23:29, Terry Gilbride – 1:32:22.

The end result:

The ending was good – three council members overrode Pridgens decision to table the landmarking decision. Now, the landmarking goes before the common council on Tuesday for the vote. If it is approved, it is a local landmark. If they deny… well, we will have to push harder somehow. We expect the item to be tabled, but that is just a wild guess.

Here is the take away:

It is important to note that no one denyed that Trico meets the historic requirements for the local landmark. It meets six of the nine criteria for placing it into historic local landmark status… and not even the BNMC could argue that. So, why is there such a debate on this issue? Its because no one wants to harm the BNMC….

We are going to need EVERYONE to contact all the council members before the end of this week so we can push the common council vote to approve the landmarking. Here contact information is here.

Stay tuned for a condensed video version of Tuesday’s meeting, questions to be raised and other information.

Common Council to vote on LANDMARK Designation tomorrow! Last opportunity for public to speak!

The public will have one last opportunity to have their voices heard regarding the designation of the TRICO Plant as a local historic landmark. The designation is an agenda item at tomorrow’s Common Council Meeting taking place in the Council Chambers at City Hall at 2pm. Please come out and show your support for TRICO’s designation. If approved, the local landmark status will ensure that the community will have input in the future of this historic asset.

To put the conversation surrounding the landmarking of TRICO into perspective, below is an open letter forwarded to SaveTrico from a group called ‘Trico Citizens Coalition’, which is addressed to Council Member Pridgen. Trico sits just inside Pridgen’s Ellicott District.

Dear Council Member Pridgen:
We are writing to ask for your support for the local landmark designation application for the Trico Plant #1 Building. The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since the Fall of 2000 having met the required criteria for eligibility set forth by the National Park Service in partnership with the New York State Historic Preservation Office. Given this national status, and the fact that the thresholds for local landmark designation is considerably lower than that of a national register-listed building, it is overwhelmingly apparent that the Trico Plant #1 Building is also eligible to become a City of Buffalo Local Historic Landmark. This should be the only relevant fact that influences your decision regarding this subject.

It is imperative that you understand the context in which your decision should be made. As a Certified Local Government, the City of Buffalo is required to list local historic landmarks regardless of owner consent. It is the City’s duty and therefore you and your fellow council members’ responsibility to approve the local landmark designation for the Trico Plant based solely on it’s historic significance rather than the wishes of the owner. Again, given that the building is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is tremendously obvious that the Trico Plant is eligible to be listed as a local historic landmark.

The City of Buffalo’s Preservation Ordinance was enacted in 1974 and “declared as a matter of public policy that preservation, protection, conservation, enhancement, perpetuation and utilization of sites, buildings, improvements and districts of special character, historical or aesthetic interest or value are necessary and required in the interest of the health, education, culture, prosperity, safety and high quality of life of the people”. The preservation of historic assets is not a matter of opinion, but rather one of public policy. As an elected official, you and your fellow council members are responsible for enforcing this established policy.

As outlined above, (1) the Trico Plant #1 Building is eligible to be listed as a local historic landmark, and (2) it is the established public policy of the City of Buffalo to enforce such actions. It is my hope that this letter has clarified the context in which your decision regarding the local landmark designation application for the Trico Plant #1 Building should be made. I urge you and your fellow council members to approve the application for local landmark designation, and with it fulfill your obligation to the citizens you are sworn to represent.

Sincerely,

Trico Citizens Coalition

Great letter guys, let’s hope Pridgen and the rest of the council makes the right decision. See you all at City Hall at 2pm TOMORROW!

SAVE TRICO / BYP HAPPY HOUR – Wednesday, April 18th @ Ulrich’s Tavern

Join Buffalo’s Young Preservationists for their monthly happy hour at Ulrich’s Tavern on Wednesday, April 18th from 7pm – 10pm for beers, preservation and Buffalo. There is plenty to talk and drink about – preservation, development, and general community collaboration in Buffalo!

This is an especially important meeting to attend as we will be discussing the local landmark designation meeting for Trico (which is taking place April 24th!) and potential strategies for public outreach.

BYP is also looking for fun summertime event ideas and community initiatives that promote Buffalo and preservation… so if you have your ideas – bring them to Ulrichs! The good and bad ideas generated here will be discussed in more detail at the next planning meeting.

Ulrich’s Tavern is located in the heart of the medical campus just north of Trico at 674 Ellicott Street, Buffalo.

Buffalo Spree editor reviews the progress on Trico via WBFO

‘Vacant, historic buildings remain a theme across the city of Buffalo.  This week in our Press Conversation, WBFO and AM-970’s Eileen Buckley talks to Buffalo Spree Editor Elizabeth Licata.  Licata runs a monthly column called “Preservation Ready”.

Licata updates us on the Trico Building and the former Fairfield Library in North Buffalo.  She also profiles the Shea’s Seneca building in South Buffalo featured in this month’s Buffalo Spree.’

Listen here.

BuffaloRising: Trico Plant #1 @ a Crossroads

BuffaloRising: Trico Plant #1 @ a Crossroads – By Eric Lander

Last fall historic preservationists from around the country and beyond descended on Buffalo to marvel at our history and architectural treasures, and left with a new, more positive image of the city.  Did we not learn anything from their praises?  Our city’s stock of historic buildings serves to create a sense of unique place not easily recreated.  Economic benefits include job creation, rising property values, stable tax base and an influx of cultural tourism.

Unfortunately, it seems every historic preservation victory in Buffalo (i.e., redevelopment of the Lafayette Hotel and many others) is offset by a regrettable, and many times avoidable, misfortune.  The Trico Plant #1 is the latest preservation battleground with a possible fate that mirrors so many past historic buildings.  The building is now at a crossroads, with one path leading to demolition and a surface parking lot and the other path involving redevelopment and reuse as a vibrant mixed-use project in the ever expanding Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The Trico Plant #1, a once proud symbol of Buffalo’s industrial heritage and strength, has since closing fallen to neglect, ill fate and mismanagement to the point of near extinction. The building has gone from listing on the National Register of Historic Places, to public auction and purchased by the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (“BNMC”) to eventual transfer of title to the Buffalo Brownfield Restoration Corporation (“BBRC”), a subsidiary of the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation. BUDC is the City of Buffalo’s not-for-profit development agency, reclaiming distressed land for future development.

The Mission Statement of the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, the City of Buffalo’s not-for-profit development agency, is to reclaim distressed land for future development. The agency seeks to create an environment conducive to private investment, provide oversight and visioning for projects of regional significance, serve as a liaison among various public and private stakeholders, serve as a conduit for public funding of significant projects and serve as a real estate holding company for certain public-sector projects.

What has transpired since the BBRC has taken title to the Trico Plant #1 seems to contradict the organization’s own Mission Statement.  From the casual observer the only investment in the property has been the erection of a perimeter fence for the purpose of public safety.  The roof membrane, removed in 2001 by the then owner Steve McGarvey, has remained unrepaired allowing water to penetrate and damage the building.  The granting and extension of exclusive development rights to the BBRC (the very organization that deeded ownership in the Trico property and whose representative has stated has no plans for development) doesn’t give the impression of creating an environment conducive for private development or providing visioning for projects of regional significance.

The actions of the BBRC don’t give the appearance of stabilizing a valued asset for the purpose of facilitating future redevelopment, but rather the initial step in demolition by neglect.  Both the BNMC and BBRC should be held accountable for allowing the Trico Plant #1 to continue on a path of eventual demise.  If the property was in private ownership such neglect would certainly warrant code violations and court action by the City.  At the very least building repairs should be made to satisfy the City of Buffalo’s own building code and stabilize the building.

As a real estate consultant for over 25 years I’ve worked as a team member on the redevelopment and reuse of dozens of historic properties.  Aside from the property’s historic context, successful reuse must be functional and financially feasible.  The evaluation process includes, but is not limited to: 1) document property characteristics, both assets and liabilities; 2) quantify market demand for potential reuses; 3) identification of viable redevelopment plan and 4) evaluate financial feasibility by estimating acquisition and redevelopment costs, potential rental income and operating expenses.  In the case of the Trico Plant #1, if evaluation concludes that redevelopment is feasible, a disposition plan must be established that effectively transfers ownership into appropriate private hands.

Property Assets & Liabilities

As a redevelopment site for reuse the Trico Plant #1 possesses many favorable characteristics.  First, the building’s nearly 90,000 square foot floorplate is the largest of any downtown property and nearly three times the size of the HSBC Tower.  This large span of space allows for the potential to support a large tenant on a single floor as well as small startups.  A large floorplate is one of the assets the Larkin at Exchange has leveraged in filling 600,000 square feet of space in a down economy and real estate market.  Additional property assets offered by the Trico Building #1 include:

• The building location offers excellent access to Route 33 and the Buffalo Niagara International Airport;

• The building possesses excellent exposure via frontage on Goodell Street.  The building’s mass and height also affords visibility from downtown and adjoining neighborhoods;

• The building’s large size is suitable for supporting a mix of uses;

• The building’s location at the periphery of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus allows for synergy and the potential to capitalize on future growth of this expanding employment center;

• The building’s high ceilings and open floorplates may result in reduced redevelopment costs and improved space planning and design; and

• The eligibility for federal and state historic tax credits will improve the financial feasibility of redeveloping the property for adaptive reuse.

The primary deficiencies of the Trico Plant #1 include the presence of contamination and building decay as well as the lack of on-site parking.  Historic tax credits will assist in defraying additional project costs and the potential of creating secured parking inside the building is an option worth exploring.

The large number of assets afforded by the Trico Plant #1 as well as the availability of historic tax credits warrants a detailed evaluation into all reuse options.  Demolition should be a plan of last resort after all potential reuse options have been exhausted.

Market Demand and Potential Reuse Options

As has been evidenced, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is a major real estate demand generator.  The Trico Plant #1 is located at the periphery of the medical campus and well positioned to capitalize on future growth and expansion.  Review of other similar urban growth cores suggests a wide range of real estate opportunities may evolve, including:

• Student and conventional housing;

• Incubator medical and lab space;

• Classrooms;

• Professional office;

• Light manufacturing;

• Hotel and conference center; and

• Ground floor retail

Tax Credits 

The BNMC claims that redevelopment of the Trico Building #1 is estimated to cost north of $400 per square foot.  While the cost of redeveloping historic properties generally exceeds that of new construction, it has been my experience that actual costs typically run half or less of that stated by the BNMC.  In addition, redevelopment of the Trico Plant #1 by private interests may involve less intense use than that of the BNMC, and, thus come at a lower cost.

Federal (20% of eligible project costs) and state historic tax credits can help defray additional project costs.  The current state tax credit for commercial properties is capped at $5 million.  Approval of Bill 6134 would increase the cap to $12 million and assist in improving the viability of such large-scale projects as the Trico Plant #1.  Cities like Buffalo with a large stock of vacant buildings should lobby for an increased historic tax credit cap, as additional sources of funding would help stimulate increased historic preservation efforts.

Property Disposition

The Trico Plant #1 is an iconic building associated with an industrial pioneer whose legacy continues to improve Buffalo’s quality of life through a generous foundation.  The loss of such a prominent building with so much reuse potential without exhausting every possible avenue of redevelopment would be unjust.  If the BNMC is not interested in reuse of the building it should relinquish its exclusive development rights in favor of disposition to a capable private developer or user.  Potential methods of property transfer include issuing an RFP, negotiation of an out-right sale or some form of partnership between BBRC and a qualified developer/user.

Another option would be for the BNMC to assign its preferred developer rights that expire in 2013, giving a qualified developer time to create a redevelopment plan, market the property and secure the necessary financing.  This seems to be a more appropriate scenario than simply letting the building continue to rot until which time the BNMC development rights expire or the building is razed.

The Trico Plant #1 offers the potential to house a vibrant mixed-use project that is both an asset to the region and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.  Saving such an important building will tell the world Buffalo values its heritage and provide another asset in the building blocks of an economic renaissance for the city and region.

It’s not the building, but the fabric….

 

Photo by David TorkeFixBuffalo

The only substantive thing about this recent Artvoice article was found buried in the comments. Commenter Dan Blather hit the nail right on the head with his response to Alan Bedenko’s most recent rambling rant.

It’s not the building, but the fabric.

In Buffalo, there has been a 60-plus year history of demolishing old buildings that fit into the urban fabric — substantial, human-scaled, and built to the sidewalk — and either replacing them with buildings that are more appropriate in a suburban context, or just never replacing them period.   Too often, when a building was demolished, plans to replace it with another urban-scaled structure never materialized, and we got the usual low profile, deeply set back “it’s better than nothing” option, or worse, a parking lot.

The Trico factory isn’t an attractive structure, but it’s an urban structure, one of the few remaining examples of the kind of structure that, in other cities, have been preserved en masse in now-vibrant “warehouse districts.” I think many fear the worst; it will be replaced with yet another building physically and psychologically disconnected from the urban environment that surrounds it.   History tells us the replacement for Trico will likely be something much less substantial, set back far from the sidewalk, with the usual large surface parking lot. 

Buffalo may have a proud architectural legacy, but it’s only the rare time when a new building is an improvement over the structure it replaced; when a new building is something that could be considered worthy of preservation efforts by future generations.  Will the building that replaces Trico be worthy of its surroundings? Will it be substantial? Will it fit in to the urban fabric as well as Trico?