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Croce claims 'significant progress' in quest for funds to protect Statler

Mark D. Croce said Friday he has not received formal assurances from the city or state for funds to protect the Statler Towers' exterior from further deterioration, but he believed that "significant progress toward that solution was being made."

Croce commented in a statement a day after a court hearing in which his entity, Statler City LLC, committed to following through on a plan to buy the Statler.

"Faced with the [bankruptcy case] trustee's motion to abandon the building into what could be an unknown legal abyss, the time was now to secure the Statler in the hands of a concerned and experienced local developer," Croce said. Morris Horwitz, the trustee, has raised the idea of seeking authority to abandon the property as a last resort.

Croce has called for $5.2 million in public funds to pay for what he said are immediate repairs necessary to stabilize the Statler. Mayor Byron W. Brown said he wants to see a more comprehensive plan for redeveloping the 18-story property before committing public funds.

Statler City had been discussing a plan under which the city would take title to the Statler, and Statler City would be named designated developer. But in a shift in approach disclosed Thursday, Croce once again is focused on purchasing the property, with the intent of wrapping up the deal by late March.

Statler City is seeking waivers from the city and county, as well as the city's sewer and water authorities, in which those entities would pledge not to pursue unpaid taxes, charges and interest in the bankruptcy proceeding. The Statler's new owner would assume responsibility for those obligations.

The waivers are considered key to completing the Statler deal.

e-mail: mglynn@buffnews.com

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