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Mayor “cautiously optimistic” on AM&A redevelopment

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said he is “pleased to see some activity” at the former AM&A department store building, which is being redeveloped into a Wyndham hotel, but remains “very cautiously optimistic” given what he called “a lot of starts and stops” in the effort.

Landco H&L, a Queens-based Chinese investment group, is spending more than $70 million to convert the long-vacant 10-story structure at 377 Main St. into a 340-room Wyndham Buffalo Hotel aimed at Asian tour groups visiting Niagara Falls. The ambitious project would include two restaurants, 40,000 square feet of banquet and meeting space on the second floor, 6,000 to 8,000 square feet of retail space, a 10-story interior atrium, a large pool and spa, and six top-floor apartments for hotel management.

The highly anticipated project was first unveiled in 2014, when the group bought the 375,000-square-foot building for $2.775 million, but has been slow to start because of the significant and costly environmental cleanup that is required. The building is full of asbestos in various materials, and has also suffered from water damage and neglect. The makeup and leadership of the investment group also changed midway, as did some details of their plans.

However, the remediation is now underway with dozens of workers and is expected to wrap up within three months, after which the interior demolition and reconstruction would begin.

“We’re working there every day,” said John Schenne, the Buffalo project engineer who is acting as spokesman for the investment group. “We’re going to increase manpower, and we’re still on schedule for completion.”

The building is expected to open by December 2017.

“Seeing some activity there is a very good thing, and we will continue to watch it very carefully on the city side on behalf of the downtown community and all the residents of the city of Buffalo,” Brown said.

email: jepstein@buffnews.com

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