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Scaled-back Trico project loses $310,000 in tax breaks

A scaled-back redevelopment plan for the former Trico Building – one without the Buffalo Culinary School originally expected to be a key tenant for the project – will receive nearly $310,000 less in tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

The agency on Wednesday revised its incentive package for the $80 million project to reflect the changes that developer Peter Krog made to the project after the culinary school withdrew from the project in December, citing continuing delays and uncertainty about whether the school could open on time.

The school is rebidding the project, and Krog has submitted a proposal, but the revised plan would allow the project to advance even without the culinary school.

The loss of the school set the timetable for the Trico redevelopment project back by about nine months, Krog said. The developer had financing arranged for the project, but when the school pulled out, those arrangements also fell through. The developer still is working on lining up financing for its revamped project, and Krog said he is confident that he can get it.

The revamped development will cost about $10 million less than originally expected after Krog found other, less expensive ways to fill the gaping hole in its plan for the former windshield wiper factory at the southern end of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

"This is an empty, huge building in the neighborhood," said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership president and an IDA board member.

Krog initially had proposed a project that incorporated an 85,000-square-foot school, with a 138-room extended-stay hotel operated by Hart Hotels and a parking ramp.

The initial plan also included about 150 loft-style, market-rate apartments on the upper floors, targeted toward the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Krog's revised plan will fill some of the space that would have been devoted to the school by building additional apartments.

The building would have had 35,000-square feet of office space for a high-tech anchor tenant, 56,000 square feet of commercial space for medical research tenants and 12,000 square feet of retail and food space.

The project would have used 480,000 square feet of space, while demolishing the 120,000 square-foot "ice house" sandstone structure along Ellicott Street.

"This is not the first developer to take on this building, but I certainly hope they're the last," she said. "We ought to be putting the building on a red carpet with klieg lights to thank the developer for taking on this project."

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