Tag Archives: statler

Paladino Hates Subsidies to _Other_ Developers

22 Sep

Carl's Insult Billboardatorium

Consider the irony – the better word, really is “chutzpah” of poor, downtrodden Carl Paladino complaining mightily about the $5 million the city of Buffalo will be granting its favored developer, Mark Croce, to rehabilitate the Statler.

The irony stems, of course, from the fact that Paladino’s real estate empire would crumble if he suddenly lost all of his government leases, and wouldn’t have grown to where it is today without upwards of $12 million in tax subsidies.  It’s not every company that has the political clout to receive $1.4 million in tax subsidies in order to invest only $1.1 million into a few Buffalo properties and creating exactly one job – $3 million from the Empire Zone program altogether, with a gain of only 25 jobs.  He bought access to those programs with his generousness to politicians and candidates, yet he’s on the outs with the Brown Administration, so now he’s going to disingenuously try and prevent a competing developer from getting public money to rehabilitate an historic downtown building.

Carl was Masiello’s favorite. How many questionable last-minute-on-Friday demos did Carl get under Tony’s watch? Now, others have taken his place and Carl is having none of it. Carl’s access to the Buffalo News used to be as wide as an airport hangar. Now he’s engaged in a blood feud with publisher Stan Lipsey, who permitted his reporters to actually investigate Carl’s business and political dealings.  Had it been up to Paladino, the Webb Building would have been razed instead of rehabilitated by Rocco Termini with historic tax credits.

Paladino’s understanding of “private sector initiative” is which politician is in whose corner.

The irony is delightful.

Paladino threatened to seek an injunction against the city’s Statler subsidy to Croce.

Croce dismissed the threat. “Good luck with that. I’ll see you in court, Carl,” he said during a separate interview. “Anybody can sue in this great country if they want. I’ve seen Carl waste a lot of money on frivolous lawsuits.”

Of course, in Niagara Falls, Paladino’s Giacomo is one of the few downtown “jewels”.  Paladino bought the United Office Building for $1.00 and reportedly rents space in it to Empire State Development for $15/SF. The going rate in downtown Niagara Falls is more like 1/3 of that amount.

Quick Thoughts

16 Mar

Do Not Be Alarmed - this most likely isn't going to happen (http://www.snopes.com/photos/technology/fallout.asp)

It’s time for another article of thoughts that haven’t yet seen enough yeast to grow into their own columns. The unifying thread? SuperFAIL:

1) President Obama has some unfortunate energy policy timing, advocating increased off-shore drilling prior to the massive Gulf oil spill, and nuclear energy before the continuing disaster in Japan. Not that he is to blame – we are short on energy solutions that are not destructive at normal levels, and catastrophic on the extremes. Irresponsible natural gas exploration is contaminating Pennsylvania, the Canadians are destroying Alberta to free oil from tar sands, and there is nothing practical available to replace them. Hard to move to renewables like wind when our local turbines sit idle far more than they spin. Investment is the only pragmatic strategy if we want an environmentally sustainable energy policy: lots of money to regulate current energy industries to follow existing environmental laws, scraping and reworking from scratch our subsidy system to stop picking winner and losers and instead peg commodities to their true total cost, and basic science investment in research and future technologies. Don’t expect to hear any of that in the near future.

2) The census is complete, so it’s redistricting time, in Erie County and at the state level. In Erie County, the commission to redraw legislative districts, consolidating from 15 to 11, met for the first time. As Artvoice reports, the main topic of conversation was how much to do before data on population counts are actually available. In Buffalo’s petty rice bowl politics, the underlying question is who wins and who loses. Geoff Kelly believes no one wins except Ray Walter. Which is another way of saying, we’re all winning.

On the New York State front, the debate in the GOP controlled Senate is whether to change the constitution to mandate impartial redistricting (a plan with an 11 year delay), do a legislative patch now, or both. So far, only the Republicans and Citizens Union, an independent reform lobby, have weighed in. The Democratic controlled Assembly still has a chance to weigh in with traditional partisan redistricting, and screw up this Good Government push. But if these are the only options presented, we’re winning here too. (And this is the only non-FAIL you will see in this column.) 

3) It’s about to be construction season, and WNYMedia’s own intrepid Andrew Kulyk is filling in well on development watch for Mark Brynes, on prolonged sabbatical. What to watch for in 2011?!?! Not much an Canalside, unless you count a little more decking and bike racks as construction. Work on anything requiring an excavator will wait til the Fall. Also watch for an again delayed Federal Courthouse, that not only bears no resemblance to its graphic sales pitch, but is now rotting from the inside. Speaking of rotting, the steel beams of the Casino are rusting away, and may need to come down, even if a permanent complex is eventually built. Finally, if you are looking for hope, don’t look at the Statler – based upon past divisions between Croce and the Mayor, expect summer fights over the $5 million promised to help rehab the lower levels in time for the Convention That Will Save Buffalo.

Statler, Byron III, Coppola v. Ranzenhofer

3 Aug

1. Mark Croce, a local developer and restaurateur, has teamed up with James Eagan to bid $700,000 for the Statler Tower in the wake of the IssaFail follies. $200,000 for the building, and $500,000 to bring its taxes up to date. Croce’s efforts may be successful because he owns parking and parking-ready lots nearby.

2. Mayor Byron Brown’s son is in trouble again – this time, for hilariously shoplifting $60 worth of crap from AJ Wright in North Buffalo. Everyone remembers Byron III’s early-morning joyride through his neighborhood, which led to accusations, cover-ups, and confirmation through surveillance video. This time, the Mayor isn’t up to any similar shenanigans, and Byron III will probably end up with some sort of pre-trial probation.

3. The State Senate was called into special session last week to try to pass the now-1/3-year-late state budget. Because a handful of Senators were on vacation and didn’t show up, and because Bill Stachowski (SD-58) continues to hold things up over UB 2020, nothing happened. State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer (SD-60) complained that Paterson’s calling a special session displayed, “…just a tremendous disregard and disrespect for taxpayers cause you got to pay everybody to come up here – gas and all this other stuff.” Well, yes – in this circumstance, with the Senate being a bunch of rubber-stamp babies who do whatever Sampson or Skelos tell them to do, it was a waste of time. But if Senators actually do the work of legislators in a regular functioning democratic representative body, something could absolutely get done.

As Ranzenhofer’s opponent Marc Coppola put it in a recent press release,

New York Senator Mike Ranzenhofer’s comments on the state budget are nothing more than empty rhetoric. This week Ranzenhofer criticized members of the state legislature over the budget process, but failed to point out his own lack of accomplishment.

He and his colleagues provide a lot of criticism and offer little by way of solution. “There are 62 members in the New York State Senate and it only takes 32 to pass a bill. Even with 9 members absent the remaining 53 are more than enough to get something accomplished. The fact that nothing is getting done is due to Senators like Mike Ranzenhofer who would rather accomplish nothing so that they can play partisan blame games” said Coppola.

Ranzenhofer has also been missing in action when it comes to the battle to pass the UB 20/20 legislation. The University is the district’s largest employer and in desperate need of help. “I challenge the incumbent Senator to show some independence and work for the people who elected him, not his party leader. I challenge him to do something for his district and WNY” said Coppola. “New York State is in its most difficult financial crisis since the Great Depression. This is no time for partisan politics. It is a time for all members to act like adults and work together for the good of all New Yorkers.”

I think that’s exactly right. The Senate is impotent because Senators let it be.

How Not to Revive the Statler

5 Mar

With all due respect, a parking ramp isn’t going to remediate asbestos and otherwise renovate the deteriorating, dead Statler into something usable in the 21st century.

Someone needs to invest maybe $100 million, and in order for that to happen there has to be a reasonable expectation that the project would successfully attract enough tenants to at least break even.

The problem isn’t about the Statler and it isn’t about parking. It’s about the economy and our business environment. Stop putting Band-Aids on this festering boil.

Flame Bait: Statler

9 Feb
The Buffalo Statler Towers as viewed from the ...
Image via Wikipedia

I think keeping a mothballed, unused Statler with a negative value needing tens of millions of dollars in renovations and environmental remediation in the very heart of downtown Buffalo is infinitely worse than demolishing it and allowing something to be built on that block that people might actually use.

Geek On Weck

3 Dec


I’ll be Brad Riter’s guest on our partner WECK1230 AM each Wednesday at 4PM.  We’ll talk about politics, rumors, media, local news and why Chris Collins hates black people. You can call in at 716.783.9325 or send me your questions via Twitter @buffalogeek

Yesterday we touched not only on why Chris Collins hates black people, but we also discussed the failure of the New York Senate to pass equal rights legislation, the saga of the Staler Hotel and the jockeying amongst the candidates to replace the Downtown King of FAIL and corruption, Brian Davis, in the Buffalo Common Council.

Chris Smith and Brad Riter discuss NY Senate Vote on Same Sex Marriage

Chris Smith and Brad Riter talk about the new WNYMedia journalism project and the battle to replace Brian Davis

Chris Smith and Brad Riter discuss Bashar Issa and the sad saga of the Statler Hotel

Chris Smith and Brad Riter discuss Erie County politics and why Chris Collins hates black people

Statler Falling Apart

28 Oct

As word comes that the group of investors who won/bought the Statler at auction have rescued the sale, I learn from Howard Goldman via Facebook that a huge chunk of Statler fell to the ground on Delaware Avenue tonight.

Had it happened just a few hours earlier, it could have been tragic.

And we ought to again thank Bashar Issa again for so lovingly caring for this local treasure.

Howard’s website is here.

Canalside: Statler or BNIA?

21 Oct

How many times can a design be “unveiled?” I count four for Canalside, at least, counting last night.

I’m sure it was a fascinating public discussion last night. But the question on everyone’s minds, that Levy and Dee and Quinn can’t answer, is whether Canalside will be the Statler, or the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

Don't you just want to slap that smile off his face?

Don't you just want to slap that smile off his face?

When it comes to positive development in our fair city, collective memories are goldfish short. The list of high price successful development projects may not be as long as some places, but it does exist. Case in point is the wildly successful and completely unappreciated Buffalo Niagara International Airport. If Canalside works as well as the BNIA, we will be doing well.

Constructed in 1997 at an original cost of $187M (total cost has been over $450M over the last 12 years, with a $90M add-on in 1999, and over $50M in upgrades in the last year), the BNIA took too long to build (6 years from plans to construction) and made plenty of people angry. But it has also been wildly successful and fulfilled or exceeded nearly every promise made before its construction. Many new airlines have been attracted to Buffalo, dropping average airfares from one of the highest in the nation to one of the lowest. It took nine years (2006) for passenger counts to hit 5 million, a milestone officials didn’t think they’d reach until 2020. People wondered where the passengers would come from, but with a third now from Canada, and drawing from Rochester and beyond, BNIA has become the hub it was supposed to be (how often do you drive to Rochester to fly out there for cheaper rates?). Even in this economy, passenger counts have stayed high, compared to the rest of the country. And personally, coming from someone who seems to live in airports, compared to the rest of the country we have a sleek, modern, comfortable terminal, with above average food and relatively quick baggage claim (now that the new conveyor system is in place).

The other end of the spectrum, of course, is the Statler Towers (or Peace Bridge, or Buffalo Creek Casino, or other options – take your pick). Over-promised and under-delivered, the centerpiece of the downtown core continues to rot. I don’t need to recount the litany of FAIL here, including bounced checks from the weekend.

So, which model will Canalside be? No matter how hard it tries, it will not be all things to all people. The history will not be historical enough. The architecture will not be hip enough. The restaurants will not be trendy enough. The stores will not be trendy enough. The bars will not be rowdy enough. The walkability will not be easy enough. The parking will not be close enough.

But, if two or three years from now, I have somewhere to buy a new kayak by testing it on the Buffalo River, a new restaurant (sorry Pearl Street Brewery) to go to before Sabres games, and outdoor skating on canals a la Ottawa, it will be a success in my book.

But who is the real big winner? Canadian shoppers. One regular critique I hear is that we are adding hundreds of thousands of square footage of new retail, with no new shoppers willing to venture downtown (a la the airport passengers). I contend that if Canadian shoppers are willing to stream into WNY for the dumpy Walden Galleria and the dumpier Niagara Outlets (the second most visited tourist attraction in Niagara County, behind the Falls), then they will be willing to drive a shorter distance to underground parking at a primo shopping center. Cha-ching, as the ever-complaining Donn Esmonde would say.

Bashar Issa: More Harm than Good

20 Oct

Almost like Buffalonian clockwork, the effort to sell the Statler Towers at a bankruptcy auction seems to be failing. The winning bidders have asked to delay closing on the deal twice already, and are expected to do so again today. That doesn’t bode well for the sale to be finalized or for anything to actually happen with the building.

And I blame the whole damn thing on Bashar Issa.

For years before Issa flitted onto the local aborted-development stage, the Statler was mired in a faded mediocrity, allowed to worsen through neglect year after year. But it was a relatively professionally-managed building of C-class office space. It was a going concern and being actively marketed. That’s why everyone was so excited by Issa, who seemed to have lots of money and charmed everyone by telling them precisely what they wanted to hear.

But when everything started to fall apart, Issa had a key chance to sell the Statler to a group of investors who had the means and ability to renovate. The Scott Group from Erie, PA just built a restaurant and hotel out on Transit Road, and they were part of the group looking to buy, along with Sam Savarino. In September 2008, it was reported that Issa had sold the Statler to Greystone Group for $3.8 million. Had that deal gone through, renovations might now be underway because Greystone Group was made up of entities who knew what they were doing. That deal would have been in everyone’s best interests.

But the Greystone deal fell through by November. Here’s why:

“Mr. Issa continuously renegotiated the purchase and sale agreement making it impossible for us to finalize the purchase,” said Howard Hurst, the Toronto businessman who was leading the Greystone effort.

“In addition, Mr. Issa’s bankruptcy in England, the liens, litigation and unpaid utility and maintenance costs here on the Statler,” Hurst explained. “[Issa’s] inability to clean up title further contributed. Under different circumstances we are still interested in being a part of its redevelopment.”

Bush league shit, that. So while Issa dithered contractually, the deal fell through and he ended up losing the Statler at bankruptcy auction, where it was allegedly sold for $1.3 million. Now, that deal appears to be falling apart, probably due to a financing issue.

He bought the Statler in 2006 for $4.5 million. He had a chance to sell for $3.8 million. At auction, it sold for $1.3 million. Supposedly.

Heckuva job, Bashar. Buffalo and the Statler would have undoubtedly been better off without you.

The Statler's Door Hit Issa on the Ass on the Way Out

12 Aug

Bashar Issa will now go down in Buffalo obscurity/infamy, just like, say the E-Zone.  He paid $4.5MM for the Statler in 2006, promised the moon and the sun and the stars, and it’d all be self-funded.

To say he was wrong would be an understatement. In the end, he turned out to be a well-dressed carnival barker, unable to complete much at all with that property.

Deals to sell the Statler to various interested parties came and went.  Issa couldn’t even get it together to come to terms and close a deal to sell.

So, the creditors forced him into involuntary bankruptcy, which ultimately led to today’s rather pathetic auction sale.  Watch the bidding start at $1MM and drop down to $400,000 before someone bothers to bid.  Ultimately, Park Lane Catering, LLC bought the building free and clear of all debts and liens for $1.3MM.


I wish them the very best luck in their very difficult endeavor.