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Editorial: At last, movement at Trico

For anyone who has walked gingerly by the mammoth, mostly fenced-in Trico building that sits on the edge of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus — or merely reflected on the aged, hulking site – it must be a relief to hear that veteran brownfield developer Krog Co. has finally begun work that will eventually renew and restore the icon.

Krog President Paul Neureuter told The News that crews started demolition work at the 10-story building a couple of weeks ago, and “expect to make significant progress by fall.”

The $87 million project is expected to be completed by early 2021, none too soon for neighbors who have speculated for years about the progressively failing state of the 617,000-square-foot complex at 719 Washington St.

It’s an important project, occupying increasingly valuable real estate as the Medical Campus first took root then began to thrive.

It had been a couple of years since the sale to Krog, which came after a long struggle by others to make the site productive. To be sure, the structure’s current worn-out state presents an odd juxtaposition against the dynamic fabric of new and refurbished buildings on the Medical Campus: the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; Oishei Children’s Hospital; Gates Vascular Institute; the Conventus Center for Collaborative Medicine; and other medical and research organizations.

Nearby, the Allen Street Reconstruction Project from Main Street to Delaware Avenue is underway.

During all of this construction and reconstruction, sat the complex originally home to the Trico Products Corp. windshield wiper manufacturer founded by John R. Oishei. The complex was built in five stages between 1880 and 1954. It consumes almost an entire city block between Washington and Ellicott streets, north of Goodell Street.

Now, Trico is about to emerge from dormancy in a big way, with plans for creating 133 apartments and a 105-room extended-stay hotel, along with 123,000 square feet of commercial space, including about 35,000 square feet for a local high-tech anchor tenant. The building will also house 230 spaces of sure-to-be coveted indoor parking and about 12,000 square feet of retail and food space. Other highlights include a 10-story atrium in the center.

The hotel will be operated by Buffalo-based Hart Hotels Inc., and the apartments will be suitable for medical students and professionals with a choice of one- and two-bedroom loft-style units.

Much preparation work in the form of asbestos removal and other remediation must be done before construction can begin, but after years of speculation and postponements, work is finally getting started at Trico with the potential to add to the renaissance occurring around the Medical Campus.

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