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Asbestos-removal work ready to begin in transformation of AM&A building

Contractors for the new owners of the former AM&A’s department store building in downtown Buffalo are getting ready to start asbestos-removal work on the 10-story building, in preparation for an overhaul to convert the vacant structure into a new hotel primarily for Asian tour groups.

Representatives of F&B Construction are working to line up temporary water and electric utility service this week, after which the rest of the crews will arrive, said engineer John A. Schenne, of East Aurora, who is representing the ownership group, led by Lily Li, of Flushing, Queens. “I think it’s going to start soon. The first step is to get your water turned on and your electric turned on,” Schenne said. “I’ll be willing to bet in a week or two they’ll have a crew in there actually doing work.”

Li’s group, Landco H&L, bought the empty store building from Apollon Group last fall for $2.775 million, and plans to turn the 375,000-square-foot building into a 300-room hotel, with a 10-story atrium cut into the middle to provide windows for interior rooms.

The building also would include six one-bedroom apartments on the top floor for hotel staff, two restaurants, plus 6,000 to 8,000 square feet of additional retail space, a large pool area and spa in the basement, and a medical clinic on the second floor. The project, estimated at $50 million to $70 million, is expected to be completed by December 2016.