One of the first things Ali Carey did after getting engaged last year was look at venues for her 220-person reception. She quickly committed to the Admiral Room, a new event space under construction at the Marin on Main Street in downtown Buffalo. It was unlike anything she had ever seen in Buffalo, with its tall arches and giant, sun-filled windows. She loved it.
But then, the Admiral Room broke its vows. Two weeks ago, Carey got word that the reception venue, which she booked in August, will no longer honor her reservation.
"They canceled out of nowhere," Carey said.
The Admiral Room informed Carey that the space would not be completed in time for her July 7 wedding. It won't be ready for any of the events the company had booked for May, June or July, either. Even September is looking iffy.
"I was upset, disappointed, stressed out beyond belief," said Carey, who is a pharmacist living in downtown Buffalo. "Most venues in Buffalo book at least a year in advance and we have less than three months until our wedding."
But it's not a lack of progress on construction that is delaying the Admiral Room's opening, according to Kevin Keenan, a spokesman for the Admiral Room.
The space is part of a $51.6 million redevelopment of the former Marine Trust building into The Marin by Priam Enterprises, which is pursuing historic tax credits. If the building opens before a certain point in the construction schedule, Keenan said, the building will no longer qualify for the tax credits. The regulatory approvals required for the state and federal credits have been delayed much longer than anticipated and, without them, the Admiral Room can't open its doors.
"It's as upsetting to us as it is to the people whose receptions have been canceled," Keenan said. "We've been very apologetic and have offered solutions to every client."
The Admiral refunded deposits immediately, gave clients lists of alternate venues and offered to cover the cost of printing and postage for new invitations alerting guests to the relocated event.
It has also revised its target opening date to September, though it is advising clients who have booked dates beyond September to look for backup locations, since it can't be sure it will have its approvals ready by then.
But why did the Admiral begin taking reservations so early? Construction and regulatory delays are a common occurrence.
"When we started accepting reservations, we anticipated we would be ready," Keenan said.
The Admiral Room's catering manager had walked Carey through the space just two weeks before the company canceled. Carey said the manager assured her the space would be finished by July, despite there being no toilets installed, no front door and no carpets.
"She even seemed annoyed that I was doubting her and asking questions," she said.
Carey was able to book her reception at the Lexus Club in First Niagara Center. Now she's looking forward to her happily ever after.
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