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Buffalo Place won't fight grants for Statler

Carl Paladino's attempt to push back against awarding public funds for the renovation of a historic downtown building ended with a whimper Wednesday.

A downtown business group rejected Paladino's proposal to have the group take a stand against a $5.3 million grant to aid the renovations of the Statler Towers.

His motion to get the other directors of Buffalo Place to oppose the grant failed to get a second during the organization's meeting.

Last month, Paladino called the city's plan to allocate the state money to Mark D. Croce's rehabilitation project "unfair" and a "selective subsidy."

Wednesday, Paladino maintained that the award would create "an unlevel playing field in the downtown market."

"This is something that we have become accustomed to on a regular basis," Paladino said.

Mayor Byron W. Brown announced Aug. 30 he supported giving Croce $5.3 million from the $15 million the city received from the State Dormitory Authority about three years ago.

Brown said the funds would be used to help stabilize the building's exterior, which would help preserve public safety.

Even though success at Croce's new ballrooms at Statler City could hurt the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, a representative of the firm that developed the hotel said he still disagreed with Paladino.

Paul L. Snyder III, president and chief executive officer of Snyder Corp., said the redevelopment of the Statler is necessary to give the city any chance of stepping back onto the national stage, in terms of the hospitality and convention industries.

"I think the idea that we are competing amongst ourselves in sort of an incestuous fashion, that it's just us as property owners or hospitality owners, is too insular," Snyder said.

Buffalo Place Chairman Keith M. Belanger, a senior vice president at M&T Bank, said it would be "somewhat atypical" for the group to take a position on an issue involving an individual property or property owner.

David L. Sweet, president of Main Seneca Corp., said he did not think this issue was "germane to Buffalo Place."

Also on Wednesday, the board passed a resolution supporting the establishment of city regulations for food trucks.

Paladino initially tried to get the group to put off taking a formal position on mobile food vending until members could be surveyed. When that didn't pass, he also saw a measure he proposed against allowing food trucks within the downtown special district fail.

Howard A. Zemsky, managing partner of Larkin Development Co., said any request that the group make a "blanket" opposition to food trucks would be "too severe."

The board then passed a resolution "in favor of the issuance of city permits for the use and placement of food trucks" within the Buffalo Place district and the rest of the city "subject to appropriate regulations" established by the Common Council.

In other business, the board was told will be the ticket vendor for next year's events promoted by Buffalo Place.


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