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Buffalo schools end deal to put second Emerson in Trico building

The Buffalo school district has pulled out of its deal with a developer to build a second Emerson School of Hospitality near the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The Board of Education has terminated its agreement with Krog Corp., which was designated as the developer for a second Emerson inside the former Trico Products Corp. building at 817 Washington St.

The lack of progress on the Krog project – which would include a hotel and apartments, as well as commercial and retail space – led to the decision.

The board in April designated Krog as developer with the condition the company make substantial progress on the project over several months so the school would be on track to open by 2018.

But Kevin Eberle, chief operating officer for the Buffalo Public Schools, said Thursday that the district pulled out of the deal because of the developer’s inability to meet milestones outlined in the agreement, which included starting the project on or before Sept. 1.

Krog had appeared to clear one of its final hurdles in August when the Erie County Industrial Development Agency approved $3.6 million in tax breaks for the $90.5 million conversion of the former windshield wiper plant.

But Krog still hasn't closed on the sprawling building, which it is purchasing from the Buffalo Brownfield Restoration Corp., a subsidiary of the Buffalo Urban Development Corp.

The developer continues to press ahead with plans for the large-scale, mixed-use project and has had access to the building to remove asbestos, according to a representative from the Urban Development Corp.

A Krog official did not return a call seeking comment.

The school district, meanwhile, will head back to the drawing board.

The district is still committed to opening an Emerson II somewhere by 2018, Eberle said.

“We’re truly dedicated to making certain this school is fully operational by 2018. We’re committed to following through and looking at other options,” Eberle said. “We are going to explore every option that we have.”

Emerson, at 70 W. Chippewa St., has been a success for the Buffalo district, combining academics with culinary arts while featuring a popular ground-floor restaurant operated by the students.

As student enrollment grew – it has maxed out at around 485 – the district in 2015 opened a second Emerson at a vacant school in South Buffalo until a permanent new location can be built.

The Trico site was selected from 11 proposals submitted to the school district, which favored the medical campus location because of the myriad of opportunities it would offer for hospitality students.

The district now could revisit the other options proposed for sites throughout the city. The original concept was to work with Larkin Development Group – which owns the Emerson building on Chippewa – to find a location for Emerson II in the city’s Larkinville District. Other potential sites that emerged included the Gates Circle campus, Hertel Avenue and the aging DL&W Terminal behind the KeyBank Center.



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