A proposal for Orchard Park developer Krog Corp. to take over as the preferred developer of the former Trico Products building in Buffalo and potentially convert it into an extended-stay hotel was met with positive reactions from members of a key economic development panel overseeing redevelopment efforts at the vast onetime factory.
“I think the news is positive,” said Brendan R. Mehaffy, executive director of the city’s Office of Strategic Planning.
Members of the Buffalo Brownfield Restoration Corp., which is the formal owner of the Trico building, discussed the Krog proposal Tuesday but said it was too soon to take any action on changing the preferred developer of the property, currently the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
Krog was granted informal permission by the agency to gain access to the factory at 817 Washington St. to investigate brownfield cleanup obligations at the former industrial site and study the property further. Krog officials previously have indicated that their preliminary development plan for the site would result in the demolition of only the icehouse portion of the building.
“It’s a real positive step, and we need to keep working on it,” said Thomas Kucharski, president of the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise business development and marketing group, and a member of the brownfield panel.
Deputy County Executive Richard Tobe said he spoke Tuesday with Peter Krog, who indicated that he was working in conjunction with the Medical Campus and could seek an extension of its preferred developer designation, now set to expire Nov. 16. One option under consideration is to grant an extension to the Medical Campus and later transfer that designation to an entity controlled by Krog.
“The (other) big option we have is to have the current option run its course and expire, and then issue a request for proposals for a new developer,” Tobe said.
That process, however, likely would take months to complete, even though the development panel already has composed a proposal request that could be issued at any time, said Peter M. Cammarata, president of the Buffalo Urban Development Corp., which oversees the brownfield panel.
The Medical Campus has not requested an extension of its preferred developer status, although board members said they could consider such a request at their October meeting or during a special meeting that could be called if the extension needs to be taken up sooner.
“My suggestion is that we take this offer seriously, and if the Medical Campus wants to extend it, we consider it,” Tobe said.
Krog officials did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, and Peter Krog could not be reached to comment. The developer is expected to seek historic tax credits as a key component of the financing package for any redevelopment project.
The Medical Campus previously indicated it might seek to demolish the roughly 1 million-square-foot building to expand its highly successful Innovation Center technology incubator next door. But the Medical Campus never formalized a development plan, and its window to purchase the building under the current development agreement closed Monday, Cammarata said.
Krog, which owns the former SmartPill building at 847 Main St., originally had planned to replace that facility with a seven-story mixed-use project, including an extended-stay hotel featuring 120 to 150 rooms.
But Krog instead agreed to sell the SmartPill building to the Medical Campus in a complex $15 million swap arranged a few weeks ago. The Medical Campus plans to add 10,000 square feet of space to the building to house Albany Molecular Research and another unidentified firm until a more permanent facility can be built for them at Goodrich and Ellicott streets.
In exchange, the Medical Campus agreed to help Krog and its partner, Hart Hotels, find a different location on the campus for their hotel plans, which they now have exclusive rights to build on the 120-acre campus.