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Work on project to revive former Trico building may begin in spring

A Southtowns developer with a track record of bringing dilapidated buildings back to life hopes to begin construction this spring on its planned $50 million reuse of the former Trico windshield wiper factory on the edge of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

And if all goes well, the building would open for its earliest occupants by mid-2017, a top company executive said.

Krog Corp. plans to close on its purchase of the enormous Trico Products Corp. building, now owned by an affiliate of the Buffalo Urban Development Corp., within the first three months of 2016, said Paul Neureuter, president of the Orchard Park development company.

The developer plans to put a hotel, apartments and commercial and retail space into the building, all geared to serve the growing medical campus community. The sprawling structure is bordered by Goodell, Washington and Ellicott streets, and Ulrich’s Tavern to the north.

The former Trico building is considered a national historic landmark for its auto industry history and for its architectural history as one of the oldest “daylight” factories. That means Krog and its architects will be required follow state and federal preservation guidelines.

Developer Peter Krog initially expressed interest in reusing the long-vacant Trico property, at 817 Washington St., in fall 2013, and Krog Corp. was named the designated developer of the property in December of that year.

The property, formally owned then and today by the Buffalo Brownfield Restoration Corp., stands as a gateway to the medical campus but had long fallen into disrepair and requires considerable and costly environmental remediation because of its industrial history.

The Trico complex includes five industrial buildings constructed from 1890 to 1954, with a total of about 617,000 square feet in all, though only 500,000 square feet may be used in the redevelopment.

Krog Corp. in February 2014 unveiled plans to redevelop the building and to partner with Hart Hotels on the hotel portion of the project, with construction beginning in spring 2015 and completed within 12 months.

The developer also said it would seek historic preservation tax credits and brownfield tax credits to help pay for the project. The lengthy delay for the development came as Krog Corp. waited for the National Park Service to approve the project’s eligibility for federal historic tax credits, and worried whether the state would renew its generous Brownfield Cleanup Program tax credits, decisions that didn’t come in the developer’s favor until April 2015. Neureuter said last week that Krog Corp. also needed time to continue its due diligence on the property.

Krog Corp. submitted detailed documents on its plans for the site to the city Planning Board in July, with details including an innovative traffic roundabout and a courtyard carved into the middle of the structure so that cars entering the future hotel and apartment complex can drop off passengers inside the building’s walls.

Architectural Resources worked with C&S Engineers on the project designs for the development, which includes a 138-room hotel and between 130 and 150 market-rate apartments. The Planning Board in September approved the environmental review for the project.

The developer is under contract to buy the building from Buffalo Brownfield Restoration Corp. for $35,000. If the closing on the sale, and the start of construction, go according to plan, the hotel and the commercial space would open first, in mid-2017, Neureuter said, with the facility employing about 200 people by then.

Work on the project should be completed by 2018, he said.