Preservation Board votes to give Trico building landmark status

Mar 22, 2013

The fate of the Trico complex in downtown Buffalo is up to the Common Council after the city's Preservation Board voted Thursday to make it a local landmark.

The vast complex on the edge of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is already a state and federal landmark, but those designations don't block a city demolition permit. Some of the complex is still in use, but around 660,000 square feet is empty and deteriorating.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The building is in rough shape and there is support for a multi-million dollar demolition of most of it. But proponents of saving the unused part of the complex say it's so strong structurally that it has survived years of neglect. They say it could be turned into anything from housing with garage space to medical research labs.

Preservation Board member Paul McDonnell says a local designation would block demolition.

"There's a number of buildings that have been saved because they're locally landmarked," said McDonnell. "Local landmarking give us a ton of options on protecting the building."

Last year, the Council received and filed the designation, blocking it. Preservation Board member Timothy Tielman says public attitudes have changed since then.

"Over the past year we've seen that there's a huge community interest in saving this building," said Tielman.

But Preservation Buffalo Niagara Executive Director Tom Yots says there are financial issues at play.

"Everyone we've met with, from preservation groups to interested developers, have said that the only thing that will save that building is a historic preservation tax credit project, because they need that incentive. The only way you're going to do that is if you preserve the building," Yots said.

The proposal will be before the Legislation Committee on Tuesday.