The vacant Nemmer Building and an adjoining piece of Theater District land are being targeted for redevelop ment as an office, shopping, housing and parking complex.
A development partnership has pro posed saving the 62-year-old Nemmer Building and combining it with Haller Park, a sliver of land on the northwest corner of Main and Chippewa streets. Under the group's plans, the two sites would be redeveloped as condo miniums, shops, offices and parking.
The Nemmer Building, which housed a furniture store, has been vacant for 20 years. The proposal is one of two the city is studying, but even the competing bidder regards it as the one favored by the Griffin administration.
The building had been targeted re cently for demolition. The group making the proposal in cludes Seneca Development and Man agement Corp., managers of Theater Place and developers of the Market Ar cade Cinema; Ciminelli Development Co. of Amherst, and Allright Parking Inc. "We were ready to do this a year ago," said Alan Dewart, a partner in Seneca Development.
ONE OBSTACLE to the project is the developers' desire for an urban de velopment action grant. The federal program is nearing an end, which means that Dewart's group may have to seek more expensive private financ ing. "Clearly, it's a problem," Dewart said, "but we still think we can do the project." Dewart's partnership is competing with at least one other development group for the rights to the site.
City Centre Development Co. has submitted a proposal that includes lux ury condominiums at the Nemmer Building and a new 1,600-seat theater on the Haller Park site. The proposal also includes retail and office space. William H. Jones, a local contractor and a partner in the group, said the plan was reviewed by the city.
But the Griffin administration, he said, is lean ing toward Dewart's group. "At this point, I understand we are practically out of the picture," Jones said. City Hall officials could not be reached to comment Wednesday. Jones said his partnership was en thusiastic about its proposal because of the theater component. He said the the ater would have been smaller than Shea's Buffalo but larger than Studio Arena and therefore would have been more suitable for "Broadway-type" per formances. HE SAID many New York City show companies are reluctant to come to Buffalo because of the absence of a medium-sized theater.
The only other developer known to be interested in the Nemmer site is Paul L. Snyder, owner of the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. Snyder at one time had an option to buy Haller Park from its owner, Goldome Bank. His son, Paul L. Snyder Jr., said that the company is interested in the site but that its plans would require sub stantial changes to the Nemmer Build ing -- something the city wanted to avoid. The Nemmer Building is located in a preservation district and has limit ed protection against demolition or al teration. Snyder said the company is not ac tively pursuing the project, but he of fered support for whatever is proposed at the site. "We hope whoever gets it implements their plan quickly and helps revitalize the Theater District," Snyder said.
Over the years, the Nemmer Build ing has been the object of several rede velopment proposals, all of them un successful. It was acquired by the city as part of a 1978 tax-foreclosure auc tion. The site has become more attractive because of its proximity to the $60 million office and shopping complex proposed by Citicom Inc. of Toronto and Key Bank of Western New York. The complex is proposed for a vacant parcel of land on the southwest corner of Main and Chippewa streets.