Demolition of the dormant Park Lane Restaurant building on Buffalo's Gates Circle will start this week, clearing the way for the area's tallest residential tower.
Uniland Development Co., of Amherst, confirmed Wednesday that it has obtained a city demolition permit and will raze the 10,000-square-foot, Tudor-style restaurant by the end of the year. Interior demolition, which will include asbestos abatement, will begin immediately.
Uniland acquired the popular restaurant site in May 2006 with plans to construct a 23-story, contemporary, upscale condominium tower with units priced at $500,000 and up. The Park Lane served its last meal on New Year's Eve, 2006.
The developer had previously said it would not tear down the existing building until it was ready to start condo construction, but is now moving ahead with demolition without a groundbreaking timetable.
"Uniland remains fully committed to building luxury residences at 25 Gates Circle. The groundbreaking date to start the project has not yet been set. Demolition is a necessary step to keep the project moving forward," the company said.
The developer has also said it will not begin construction of the $60 million residential tower until it has pre-sold at least 60 percent of the units.
Designed by Diamond Schmidt Architects of Toronto, with Buffalo's Hamilton Houston Lownie, the sleek glass-and-bronze tower will be anchored by a two-story limestone base. Among its planned features is an internal lobby wall covered with vegetation that will serve as a "biofilter" for the structure's air systems. The residential tower would be situated on the west side of Gates Circle, across Delaware Avenue from Millard Fillmore Hospital. It is located at the south end of the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Chapin Parkway.
The project has been controversial since it was first announced, and residents of the nearby Park Lane Condominiums say they plan to file legal action to stop it from being built. The residents, who raised environmental, historical and quality of life issues in their suit, have struck out with both the State Supreme Court and Appellate Division, and are now asking the state Court of Appeals to review the case.
A fixture on the Buffalo restaurant scene for decades, the original Park Lane opened in the 1920s in an elegant Georgian mansion on the circle. In 1971, tragedy struck the landmark when a fire burned the restaurant to the ground. But it was brought back to life in 1974 in the current Tudor-style building.
The s restaurant went dark in March 1997 due to financial problems, and the building and its contents were sold off in a bank auction that September.
It got another lease on life later that year under new ownership and a new name -- The Park Lane Tavern & Oyster Bar. At the time of its closing, it was owned by William Koessler, who continues to operate Park Lane Catering based in the Statler Towers.