Plans to demolish most of the Trico complex on the edge of the Medical Campus are off the table for now. Instead, roughly half of the 617,000 sq.ft. of space would be demolished under a scenario being supported by the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC). The potential of partial demolition isn’t likely to win favor from purists that sought to save the whole complex, but the compromise development project gives preservationists and BNMC officials each a bit of what they were looking for.
Earlier this year, BNMC officials reached out to preservation officials and other stakeholders to explain the need to demolish nearly all of the landmark Trico complex. The complex was placed on the State Historic Registry in 2000 and the National Historic Registry in 2001.
BNMC initial plans called for saving only the oldest portion of the facility, a Medina sandstone structure which was used in the 1890s as an icehouse for the Christian Weyand Brewing Company, and redeveloping the balance of property for expansion of the BNMC’s adjacent Innovation Center. The Innovation Center was developed by the BNMC in 2010 out of a portion of the former Trico facility and is currently used as office and research space.
Preservationists asked BNMC to delay submitting plans for demolition to allow exploration of reuse options. BNMC was prepared to apply to the City to demolish the complex but was convinced to share the studies and reports and have further discussions about options other than complete demolition with the preservation community.
Officials from Preservation Buffalo Niagara, members of Campaign for Greater Buffalo and others with preservation, architectural, engineering and redevelopment experience met to look at the structural and environmental reports and toured the building.
A Trico Complex Redevelopment Feasibility Study
was commissioned to assess existing consitions and potential redevelopment strategies. The goal was to “achieve a collaboratively developed direction for the Trico site based on relevant facts and a fair evaluation of preservation and demolition options.” The report was prepared by Architectural Resources, Foit-Albert Associates, Baer and Associates and Militello Realty along with input from the ad hoc Preservation Roundtable group facilitated by Doug Swift, Harvey Garrett for a time, and later, Monica Pellegrino Faix.
Besides looking at the physical condition of the property, the report evaluated three redevelopment options along with mothballing the complex for future use.
The “Full Complex Redevelopment Scheme” aims to reuse as much of the entire Trico Plant No. 1 Complex as possible. A mix of about 14,000 sq.ft. of retail space, 150,000 sq.ft. of medical office space, 50,000 sq.ft. of general office space, 125,000 sq.ft. of light industrial space, 120 hotel rooms and 120 loft apartments on the top two levels was envisioned. 88,000 sq.ft. of the complex was deemed to be non-programmed, un developed space due to market demand and layout of the buildings. The full-project cost was estimated at nearly $114 million, would generate a need for 1,151 parking space and have a five-year lease up period.
The “Courtyard/Light-Well Redevelopment Scheme” involves a significant scope of new construction while maintaining a sizable portion of the existing buildings. In this scheme, the majority of the complex is preserved, with a large light-well located on the Ellicott Street side of the complex. Due to the significant structural issues, the Ice House building would require “extraordinary measures” to restore, making it unfeasible to rehabilitate.
This scenario would result in 501,000 sq.ft. of space consisting of 14,000 sq.ft. of retail, 150,000 sq.ft. of medical offices, 50,000 sq.ft. of general office, 120 loft apartments, 120 hotel rooms and 125,000 sq.ft. of light manufacturing space. This option has less underutilized space due to the amount of the complex removed for the courtyard/light-well.
Total development cost is estimated at $97 million.
The “Goodell Development Scheme” concentrates resources toward redevelopment of Trico Building No. 8. This was one of the last buildings to be constructed in the Trico Plant No. 1 Complex, completed in 1937. Building No. 8 is an “L” shaped steel framed, concrete encased structure with a masonry and glazed exterior wall that displays many of the attributes of the “Daylight Factory” architectural style of construction.
Reusing Building 8 would maintain the iconic view as automobile traffic comes up Goodell Street towards Main Street and travelling north on Ellicott Street and Washington Street. It saves 42 percent of the complex and also allows BNMC a sufficient parcel to expand the current Innovation Center.
14,000 sq.ft. of retail space, 150,000 sq.ft of medical offices, 40,000 sq.ft. of general offices, 60 loft apartments, and 120 hotel rooms are envisioned. The 250,000 sq.ft. Innovation Center expansion would be built at the north end of the property. A four-year lease up period is envisioned with a cost of the Trico rehab work estimated at $52 million.
The size and cost of this Goodell scheme is seen as a scale that would be attractive to a larger pool of potential developers. One of the primary issues with reusing the entire complex is the bulk of the building. Interior spaces on the 80,000 sq.ft. floors, far from windows, are harder to reuse and market to tenants. The Trico’s 600,000 sq.ft. of space scared off the local and out of town developers who looked at the property. With demolition of over half of the Trico complex anticipated, redevelopment of Building 8 may not be eligible for historic tax credits, creating a significant financial hurdle however.
Mothballing the complex was estimated to cost $5.8 million. It would involve basic environmental remediation, selective demolition, a new roof, stabilization and exterior repair.
The report does not make any recommendations:
There are no recommendations made as to which option is the preferred scheme. The intention of this study is to analyze various development scenarios that could be reviewed by any potential developer. It is anticipated that BNMC will make a decision based on the facts and opinions set forth in this study.
Regardless of what development scenario is chosen, the consultants believe that it is imperative that the history of the structure, its function as a major manufacturing center and the life and contributions of John R Oishei should be respected and celebrated. It is recommended that some form of on-site, professionally developed, permanent, interpretive exhibit be incorporated into any development that occurs.
Should BNMC choose not to pursue any development strategy of the Complex, it is likely that the responsibility for the disposition of the structure will revert to BBRC, the owner of record. In that event, the consultants recommend that a Request for Proposals (RFP) be issued and advertised nationally to attempt to attract a developer willing to assume an approved development project.
BNMC officials announced today its plans
to seek a development partner to help preserve Trico building No. 8. The BNMC anticipates selective demolition for the remainder of the Trico buildings as it builds a new facility designed to meet the needs of current and future tenants of the Innovation Center. From William L. Joyce, BNMC Chairman and Matthew Enstice, BNMC President:
We, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, have gone through a thoughtful process with community stakeholders and members of the preservation community, and have come up with what we believe is a responsible and balanced plan for the site. Thanks to the dedicated members of this group, we have amended our original plan and now intend to preserve the iconic structure along Goodell Street to develop with a qualified partner. We will move forward with selective demolition to build an addition to the Innovation Center, the already-renovated portion of the facility.
After much discussion amongst our member institutions, stakeholders, and potential tenants for this site, we are pursuing the Goodell Scheme/north parcel development site option, which preserves an additional nearly 260,000 sq. ft. (the entirety of building number 8) in partnership with a qualified developer, and includes selective demolition to allow for construction of Innovation Center 2. IC2 will further provide space for new biotechnology companies to locate on the Medical Campus, as the original Innovation Center has. We plan to pursue this plan immediately.
Renderings by Architectural Resources