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An effort to protect the vacant former Trico building that serves as a gateway to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus from possible demolition failed Tuesday.

The Common Council was deadlocked, 4-4, on designating the Trico Complex at Washington and Goodell streets as a local landmark. Five votes were needed for the designation to be approved.

A landmark designation would give the city’s Preservation Board greater oversight and offer the building a level of protection from demolition.

The Medical Campus, which owns development rights to the sprawling former windshield wiper factory, was opposed to the designation, and principals said that if after six months of collaboration with the preservation community a reuse cannot be found, they would like to tear it down.

The designation question had been before the Council for one year, and when Tuesday’s meeting began, it was not clear how the vote would go.

Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen, in whose district the complex lies and who voted against landmark status, said the complex appears too far gone for restoration, though some of it should be saved. The Medical Campus should work with the preservation community, as it has stated it would, to see if it can be redeveloped, and the campus should act quickly, he said.

Voting with Pridgen were Council President Richard A. Fontana, Majority Leader Demone A. Smith and Council Member Christopher P. Scanlon.

Voting in favor of landmark status were Council Members David A. Franczyk, Joseph Golombek, Michael J. LoCurto and David A. Rivera.

Council Member Bonnie E. Russell did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.

Preservationists said they were hoping the Council would consider only the city’s preservation ordinance, which offers nine criteria for a building or site to be designated a local landmark, and does not include such factors as whether a building can be reused.

“We heard arguments that the building doesn’t look nice,” said Paul McDonnell, chairman of the city’s Preservation Board, which submitted the landmark application to the Council. “Those are the things that disappoint us.”

McDonnell was referring to comments made by Smith, who said he showed visitors the Trico complex and said they were not impressed, as they had been with the city’s other architecture.

The Trico complex is designated a landmark on the National Register.

Also Tuesday, the Common Council called on state government to grant development rights for the next nine to 12 months to a group interested in building a sports and entertainment complex on the outer harbor.

“A stadium in downtown Buffalo is what people want,” Smith said.

Principals with Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex sent a letter to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority on Monday offering to purchase development rights for 150 acres and “limited profit sharing” with the authority.

The authority’s chairman, Howard Zemsky, has said the development rights won’t be granted for that project.

email: jterreri@buffnews.com