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Hearing set on control of Statler

A State Supreme Court Judge has scheduled a hearing to weigh whether Buffalo's Statler Towers should be put under control of a court-appointed receiver.

Justice John M. Curran, who has previously held closed-door and open-court sessions with lawyers representing developer Bashar Issa and Statler tenants regarding the downtown landmark, has set a Feb. 27 hearing.

"We see it as a step forward. We're making progress," said attorney David Pfalzgraf. His client, Park Lane Catering at the Statler, filed suit in December seeking to have a receiver put in charge of the Statler's day-to-day operations.

Sources familiar with the situation said that a local group of investors has contacted Issa about buying the historic hotel-turned-office complex. They also said Issa is cooperating with efforts to remove hurdles to a potential sale, including paying bills and physical maintenance of the building.

The future of the well-known Buffalo building has been in limbo since last April when Issa's BSC Development Buffalo LLC halted a $100 million project which would have restored the structure as a hotel/office/residential complex. Last fall, a regional investment group, led by a Toronto businessman, signed a $3.5 million purchase contract to acquire the building, but the deal died.

The Park Lane, a key Statler tenant which operates the storied Golden Ballroom and other event space, turned to the court for help, citing deteriorating physical conditions at the building. The tenant also alerted the court BSC Development was facing shut-off notices from National Fuel Gas and other utilities for non-payment.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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