With workers scaling its exterior walls like Spider-Man to see exactly what needs to be done, the Statler City hotel is getting a $5.3 million face-lift that will include a new marquee and storefront.
It’ll take at least a year to finish, Statler City developer and owner Mark Croce said Tuesday.
But though the exterior renovation just started, he’s already planning what else to add inside. Croce wants to develop commercial and residential space above the Statler’s already completed three stories of banquet halls and bars.
“The plan is for this to be a mixed-use building, and it’s going to be a combination of commercial and residential units with the street-level storefronts all being commercial and then a number of floors for commercial office space, and then primarily residential above it,” he said.
Croce also said he is going to explore how hotel space would “make sense” inside the Statler.
But those plans will be finalized after the exterior renovation, the project’s third phase, is complete.
Standing across the street from the Statler at Tuesday’s news conference, Mayor Byron W. Brown and Croce announced the start of work to restore the iconic downtown building’s marquee, storefront and its terra-cotta.
Croce hired the development firm R&P Oak Hill to help repair the building. Workers began scaling the 18-story building to identify terra-cotta, roof and other exterior issues on the Delaware Avenue side. The Delaware side will be done by the holidays, Croce hopes, before work begins on the other sides of the building.
The $5.3 million for the exterior work comes from a state grant.
The Statler had been in bankruptcy court and faced possible demolition before Croce bought the building on Niagara Square for $700,000 and back taxes in 2011.
“It was very possible that this jewel in our community could have been demolished,” Brown said at Tuesday’s news conference. The demolition of the Statler, had it occurred, could have cost Buffalo and Erie County taxpayers more than $15 million.
After buying the building, Croce dove into phase one: He invested more than $3 million to renovate the building’s first three floors, which include the Terrace Room, Grande Lobby, Lobby Bar, Palm Court Bar and six banquet halls and ballrooms. It had its grand opening on New Year’s Eve 2011.
From there, Croce’s team began phase two: marketing for weddings and bringing in hundreds of them since late 2011. Croce said sometimes there are four to six weddings per weekend.
Between late 2011 and Tuesday, Croce had been working with the city to bring in money to address the exterior damage from more than a century of neglect, after using his own money to redo the interior of the 850,000-square-foot building.
The state funds were secured last month.