A state judge declined to issue an immediate order blocking the sale of a city-owned parking lot in downtown Buffalo to Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. for a redevelopment project, rejecting the arguments by rival developer Rocco Termini that the loss of the parking posed an imminent threat to his Hotel @ the Lafayette and other businesses.
But State Supreme Court Justice Emilio L. Colaiacovo did not throw out the rest of the lawsuit, reserving judgement on the merits of the case until later.
The July 3 ruling means Ciminelli is clear to proceed with its acquisition — expected this week — of the 2.5-acre parcel at 201 Ellicott, as well as to start work on the site cleanup and construction. The developer plans to erect a 220,000-square-foot, multi-story building with 201 affordable housing units, as well as a separate 20,000-square-foot one-story building to house a new wholesale and retail grocery operation.
Termini's Signature Development Buffalo, along with other businesses and tenants at Lafayette, had sued the city and Ciminelli, asserting that the city had improperly approved the project and the property sale. They also alleged they would suffer significant harm because of the loss of 375 parking spaces.
The judge, however, ruled that any damages could be compensated monetarily at a later date, so a preliminary injunction was not necessary. The next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 13.
"When it comes to the merits, we’re very confident that the law supports us and that the facts will bear out the petition," said attorney Brian Melber, one of two attorneys representing Termini and the other plaintiffs.