Share this article

print logo

Medical Campus will quickly use part of ex-Trico complex But main building will be mothballed pending remediation

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus will update its master plan to incorporate the newly acquired Trico Products complex into its strategy for growth.

Executive Director Matthew K. Enstice said the 15-acre industrial site, which is adjacent to the downtown Buffalo biotechnology campus, offers new possibilities for the burgeoning research and development facility.

"This additional space presents a significant opportunity to grow a knowledge-based economy in Buffalo and we will work proactively to make that happen," Enstice said.

Chan Krieger and Associates of Cambridge, Mass., the firm that developed the BNMC's original 100-acre master plan in 2002, has been contracted to update the growth blueprint.

"What we expected to do in 10 years, we've done in six," Enstice said. "And now that we have the Trico site, we're in a brand new place in terms of where and how we'll grow."

The original Chan Kreiger master plan is considered a "world class" design that melds state-of-the-art biotech and medical research facilities with historic residential and commercial neighborhoods around it.

The BNMC submitted the winning $4.3 million bid for the nearly idle Trico site in an October bankruptcy court auction, and took title to the property on Wednesday.

The former windshield wiper plant -- bordered by Goodell, Washington, Ellicott and Virginia streets -- is across Virginia from the southern edge of current medical campus perimeter. The existing medical campus footprint extends from Main Street to Michigan Avenue, and from North to Virginia streets.

The Trico plant, which was built in 1935, includes a 540,000-square-foot, six-story building, and a 100,000-square-foot-plus, four-story structure. Both buildings have state and national historical landmark status. A 5.3-acre parking lot is also part of the property.

Short-term plans call for an immediate overhaul of some 80,000 square feet of space in the smaller building for use by biotech ventures.

"It's a great building that can be fairly easily converted to the uses we have in mind. We see that happening very quickly," Enstice said.

The medical campus has applied for a $6.5 million "Restore NY" grant to aid that conversion.

The future of the much larger main plant building, which has sat empty for over a decade, is not so clear. While preliminary engineering assessments have deemed it structurally sound, the building requires immediate roof line and brick repairs. It also requires unspecified environmental remediation, according to Richard Tobe, the city's economic development chief.

"We don't think it's a question of if it can be saved, but it could come down to whether it is economical to save it. We're not going to know that until we know a whole lot more about its end use," Tobe said.

Those issues have led the medical campus to partner with the Buffalo Brownfield Restoration Corp., which is expected control the building for the next few years.

"It's the entity in our community with the greatest experience in handling these kind of sites," Tobe said. "We'll get the six-story building buttoned up and give the medical campus time to digest the four-story and work on its overall development strategy."

Under a three-year agreement, the BNMC will pay for repairs, insurance and other carrying costs for the idle main plant.

The medical campus will also take some time to develop plans for the site's surface parking lot. "We've had conversations about structured parking, which is something we'll need to support our growth," Enstice said. "But it won't be a giant ramp. Our plan is to leave plenty of space for future development."

The medical campus, in conjunction with the University at Buffalo, bid just over $20 million for the Trico site and nearby M. Wile building, at a bankruptcy auction held on behalf of the late developer Stephen B. McGarvey.


There are no comments - be the first to comment