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Statler sale has hitch Prospective buyers want extension on closing deadline

The prospective buyers of the Statler Towers say they need more time to close the deal.

New Buffalo Statler Development is asking for a 60-day extension, until Nov. 30, said David Pfalzgraf, an attorney for the group. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Carl L. Bucki will consider the request at a hearing on Tuesday afternoon.

Bucki last month approved the group's request to extend the initial closing date by 30 days, moving it to late September.

New Buffalo Statler Development and its attorney could face tough questions from Bucki about its latest request, based on comments the judge made in late August when he granted the 30-day extension.

"How do I know you're not going to be back here in 30 days asking for more?" Bucki said then.

Pfalzgraf said Wednesday that New Buffalo Statler Development needs the additional 60 days due to the "complexity of the transaction."

"We're working around the clock and remain very optimistic and excited about this redevelopment project," he said.

He said the group is working with governmental economic development agencies to secure the support it needs for its redevelopment effort. And it wants to partner with a developer who has experience with such large-scale projects, he said.

New Buffalo Statler Development made the winning bid for the property, $1.3 million, at an auction held Aug. 12. The group is led by William Koessler, Thomas Zawadzki and Richard Sterben. Their planned renovation is estimated at $100 million.

Pfalzgraf insisted the group remains committed to the project and cited the investment it has already made in the property as evidence.

"We've been carrying this building each day without fail since Sept. 1," after the judge granted the 30-day extension, Pfalzgraf said.

The giant building has towered over Niagara Square since the 1920s. It commands magnificent views from the top floors, and events are still held in the glamorous Golden Ballroom on the first floor. But throughout, the structure requires an extensive overhaul.

The property's previous owner, BSC Development of Buffalo LLC, was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April at the request of creditors and over the objections of developer Bashar Issa, who bought the Statler in 2006.

Morris Horwitz, the bankruptcy court-appointed trustee for the Statler, could not be reached to comment on the 60-day extension request.

The sale is technically supposed to be closed on Monday. But Horwitz filed a document with the court agreeing to an extension of the closing until 5 p.m. next Wednesday. That closing date could be extended to the end of November if Bucki approves the development group's request.

The only other participant in bidding at the Statler auction, Gail Pirincci, came to court last month and asked for her $100,000 deposit to be returned. The judge approved her request.

In remarks after that hearing, Pirincci said she remained interested in the Statler "but just didn't want to pursue it at this time."

e-mail: mglynn@buffnews.com

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