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Developer urges district to reconsider culinary school for Trico building

Buffalo Public Schools is seeking new proposals for a second culinary high school, after pulling the plug two weeks ago on a deal with Krog Corp. to locate the new school in the former Trico building near the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

But Krog isn’t going away quietly.

The Orchard Park development company has asked the district to reconsider its decision to terminate their agreement and reaffirmed its commitment to open a second Emerson School of Hospitality by September 2018.

But if the Buffalo school district walks away from the Trico project, the district would be on the hook for as much as $1 million in costs already incurred, the developer contends.

“In short, we have been extremely accommodating to the district’s requests and remain committed to moving this project forward in accordance with schedule,” Krog President Paul R. Neureuter wrote to Superintendent Kriner Cash in a letter.

“The district’s delayed responses, refusal to meet and failure to approve and provide necessary documents makes us question whether the district is negotiating this lease in good faith,” Neureuter said in the letter.

The school district in April designated Krog as developer for a second Emerson 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 the Board of Education on Dec. 7 terminated its agreement with Krog for failing to meet milestones outlined in the agreement, which included starting the project on or before Sept. 1.

Krog officials "strongly contest that assertion" the company said Wednesday in its first public statement over the issue. In fact, the district and Krog were so close to an agreement on Nov. 4 that the mayor's office drafted a joint news release to announce the development, according to the company.

The district, on the other hand, still appears comfortable about its decision to part ways with Krog and the long-delayed Trico project.

“They’ve missed milestones in relation to demonstrating their ability to finance the project, taking title to the building, commencing construction on the building and coming up with a lease that was acceptable to the district,” said Edward A. Betz, general counsel for Buffalo Public Schools.

When asked about the developer recouping from the school district $1 million in project costs, Betz said: “Good luck to them.”

The district expects to receive new proposals for a second Emerson by February.

“We are committed to having a school open for the start of school fall 2018,” Betz said.

The $90 million redevelopment of the Trico building at Goodell and Washington streets was supposed to include the second Emerson, as well as an extended-stay hotel, apartments and other commercial uses.

The district's decision to cut ties does not affect the eventual redevelopment of the historic building, but could further delay it, the developer said.

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