Tag Archives: Trico

Rejected “Trico Saved!” Headlines

25 Feb

Krog Wipes Away Controversy

Monument to Lost Jobs Saved

Docs Nixed, Bricks Fixed

Trico “Really Ties the City Together” 

This Hotel Matters

Trico Saved #ForReal

Mayor Brown Makes Decision

As an aside, Krog intends to demolish the older, stone icehouse portion of the Trico building. I’d be shocked if he didn’t get massive pushback from genuine preservationists on that point. I’m sure he’ll just need to retain the right people as “consultants” on the job and any potential problems will dissolve. 

Saving Trico & the Leadership Vacuum

2 Apr

It’s only been a few short weeks, but I’m already absolutely sick & tired of hearing about, talking about, or thinking about the decaying, unusued Trico factory. Empty now for a decade, it stands as an overgrown, brown headstone honoring the memory of industries lost to the cheap labor and lax environmental regulations of Mexico’s borderlands. Trico assembles wipers in Matamoros. Trico is dead. Oishei so loved Buffalo that they moved the wiper business – which employed people and created local wealth and economic activity – and set up a foundation. 

Battle lines have been drawn, and the forces of “preservation” have selected an old building as a “must-save”, and will go to every length to prevent even the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus from demolishing and replacing the dormant Buffalo factory building. This despite the fact that BNMC is driven by innovation and knowledge, and employing people in something other than piddling service jobs or anachronistic assembly positions. This despite the fact that much of what BNMC has built in recent years has been architecturally as innovative as the work done within the buildings. 

Sure, I could point out that the work that BNMC and its people do is today’s version of building wiper blades, but that doesn’t matter. Trico must be saved! I could point out that the cavernous Trico building’s design could just as easily be described as an eyesore as it can be held up as an example of a factory design that was innovative 100 years ago, but that doesn’t matter. Trico must be saved! Even hypothetically – if a company was saying it wanted to move to Buffalo and create a zillion jobs at $50,000 per year, but wanted to be downtown on a large plot of land and build something designed by Frank Gehry on the site of the mothballed Trico site, and it wouldn’t matter. Trico must be saved!

This despite the fact that Trico has been sitting there for a century, and it is so significant and historical and historically significant that there exists nothing on the books that would legally prohibit its demolition. 

There is no winning in this argument. Only headaches. Buffalo’s activist class have temporarily united to combat anything but Trico’s adaptive reuse. Even Rocco Termini – whose entire business model is based on (a) being friendly with Byron Brown; and (b) using subsidies to render adaptive reuse economically feasible shamelessly says he has a dollar in his pocket to buy Trico and then save it – using government subsidies to do so. 

There seems to be a belief that because Trico can be adapted and reused, it must be adapted and reused. I don’t think that’s true, but it doesn’t matter. Trico must be saved!

Usually, when populations and stakeholders have some sort of disagreement, political leaders will step in and show some leadership on the issue. Not here. Anyone know where Byron Brown stands on this controversy? With whom will he side – with jobs and innovation, or with the defenders of a “daylight factory”, which was innovative in its use of windows?

Buffalo Rising’s April Fool’s joke involved Trico “saving itself”, and flying away because the city is so mean to it. I wish it were true. I wish we could ship our unused industrial detritus elsewhere, but we can’t.  We can either turn it into the “Trico lofts”, or tear it down. But a vocal and well-organized minority has decided that Trico is important and must be saved – not because it’s in any way attractive, but because of its “good bones”. Because of a leadership vacuum in City Hall and no one much caring, BNMC will be bullied into submission. There will be no peace until the state subsidizes cut-rate rental apartments, maybe offices, and vacant street-level retail space in that massive building.  Or perhaps BNMC will decide to put its 21st century people in a century-old factory. 

In inadvertently picking a fight over historic preservation, the BNMC – the future of Buffalo – never had a chance. 


Sophistic Jaundice Tuesday

13 Mar

1. I know HBO’s adaptation of Game Change is a dramatization of one side of one story, but if there’s even a smidgen of truth to any of it, thinking people who live in our Republic need to work together – multipartisanly – to ensure that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is never elected to anything ever again. I don’t just mean some national position – I’m saying that her particular mixture of proud ignorance and narcissism is downright dangerous, and she doesn’t deserve election even to a homeowner’s association.

2. Interesting that the Oishei Foundation, which was set up with Trico money, isn’t knee-jerkedly joining the keep it crowd when it comes to the Trico building that the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus wants to demolish to make way for something as yet unannounced. There’s now a “save Trico” blog, and it has reposted something from Derek Punaro in which he analyzes what he perceives to be the arguments against preserving the dormant factory. My response to him was this:

You omitted the part about landowners having a qualified right to do what they want with the property they own.

You’re right about most of your points, but so what? Trico is gone, and hell, if you try hard enough you can come up with an historic rationale to save any building, anywhere, at any time. I’ll bet you if someone came up with a reasonable, funded plan to replace the execrable Buffalo City Court building, there’d be opposition to it. And if there wasn’t, I’d do so ironically.

A quick scan of the BNMC plan shows that the surface parking lots surrounding the Trico are already slated for development, and expansion of the campus.

So, if tomorrow the BNMC held a press conference revealing what it wanted to build on the Trico plant site, that it wanted to build it as soon as practicable after demolition, and that the funding for it was in place, you’d withdraw your opposition?

Because the question isn’t really whether Trico COULD be used as a modern medical research facility – the question is whether BNMC wants to use it as such – whether its layout comports with the way in which BNMC wants its people to work, and whether it’s economically or environmentally feasible or desirable to do so.

Just because Zemsky re-did the Larkin doesn’t mean every factory and warehouse facility that happens to be old and harken back to a long-gone industry needs to be preserved. What I tweeted yesterday was,

The Trico Building is a monument to nostalgia & the industrial abandonment of Buffalo. Hold @BNMC to a high standard, but let them build.

I stand by that statement.

Derek and I aren’t going to agree on this, and that’s ok. He’ll advocate for its preservation, and I’ll hope someone rips it the hell down and builds something new as soon as possible. To me, it’s time for the next generation of Tricos and Larkins to make their architectural mark on the city, and the BNMC has built a couple of badass new buildings lately. Knee-jerkedly keeping every old building for the sake of its oldness and some trumped-up “significance” is just tiresome.

But then local expert-at-everything Chuck Banas left a comment that began thusly:

Mr. Punaro has written an excellent deconstruction of the issue. It is no surprise, nonetheless, that Mr. Bendenko’s mindless contrarianism is on full display here. Indeed, his comments display the lack of creativity and vision — as well as the cynicism — that we’ve come to expect.

But Bedenko’s train of logic really derails when he states that Mr. Punaro is correct about most (if not all) of his points, and then glibly says, “so what?” Even a cursory interpretation of Punaro’s individual arguments reveals them to be germane and immensely relevant. The Trico buildings are exactly the type of structures that successful, progrssive cities preserve and repurpose. These are precisely the type of industrial buildings that can be reused easily and inexpensively.

The real rub, however, is not Bedenko’s sophistic argument, but that his jaundice has apparently blinded him to the obvious problems with the BNMC’s behavior. And the problems are surely obvious:

I’m pretty sure my comment was somewhat critical of the BNMC for not being as transparent as some might like. I’m also pretty sure that my comment to Derek was respectful and didn’t call him an asshole. So, I’m puzzled as to why everyone’s favorite development/architectural busybody found the need to describe me and my position as “mindless contrarianism” and deceitfully hostile.

Also, the preservationists should make up their minds over the “significance” and “BNMC isn’t playing nice” arguments. Of course, there’s nothing short of reusing that building that the BNMC could do to satisfy the preservationists, so the former argument is probably more persuasive.

Well, my argument with Derek was none of those things, and if your position is to just call me names, mischaracterize my position, and then simply re-state what Derek has already written, then you ought to piss off.

I really dislike the Trico building. I think it’s downright ugly. An eyesore that stands as a stark reminder of how far down the city has gone. Over the last decade, it’s been nothing but a headstone for a business that’s abandoned Buffalo and her people – a business that’s still making a profit, making wipers in Matamoros, paying Mexican workers pennies per day, taking away factory jobs from the working class in Buffalo – a working class that’s finding it ever-tougher to get a job in this area, which leads to poverty and flight.

I don’t care if it’s got skylights and other fin de siecle anachronistic “features”. I don’t care if its brown paint is distinctive or if its lead paint dust or asbestos are architecturally significant. It’s a monument to loss and failure, and I’ll bet if someone wanted to build an exact replica of it today somewhere, the same people clamoring for its preservation would be screaming and yelling about how ugly and out-of-place it is for that part of town.

3. Victims of child abuse at the hands of a disgraced Syracuse coach are lobbying Albany for a change to the statute of limitations for lawsuits arising out of that abuse. People often stay silent as a result of such abuse, and live a life of shame and silence. Astonishing, isn’t it, that the major opponent to this change in the law is the Catholic Conference.

Similar bills passed in the Assembly in years past but never reached the Senate floor, because the Catholic Conference is against it. Church officials said they don’t oppose the Statue of Limitations increase, rather, the one-year window.

“Just the whole concept of going back 50, 60, 70 years and bringing old lawsuits against teachers, priests, whoever the accused is, and have the institutions try and defend themselves, is just contrary to justice,” A Representative for the Catholic Conference said.

Aside from that being an inaccurate description of the proposed law, it’s astonishing exactly who‘s piping up to oppose a rather simple change in the law to enable child sex abuse victims to get their day in court.  A Cardinal, of all people

Save Trico!

8 Mar

Too late.

Wednesday War ‘n Politics

7 Mar

1. Congratulations to Mitt Romney, who won a couple of states in last night’s Super Tuesday. He appears to have become, at long last, the Republican’s nominee to take on Barack Obama in November. Santorum won a handful of states, and Gingrich won Georgia, which is enough to keep them around and just demolishing Romney day in and day out, but they don’t really have anywhere to go.

2. Incidentally, did you know that the Paladinoist / Palinist wing of the tea party club here in WNY held a Presidential straw poll of its own? Although Romney is very likely to win the New York primary, our plucky band of angry local wingnuts picked Rick Santorum.

3. The debate over what is to become with the Trico building is going to be the big development/preservation fight for the first half of this year. It’s already getting going, as an earlier post will attest. What’s unique about this particular battle is that most people agree that the Trico building is an historically significant landmark, and also that the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is something that’s great for the community and the source of a great many good jobs, and of a knowledge-based future Buffalo industry. It’s going to be a tough battle because it’ll be particularly hard for anyone to demonize or belittle anyone else. It’s also yet another ad hoc battle that we’re so used to, which pits people against each other, creates loads of rancor, and is generally sad and discouraging, regardless of who wins. While I recognize the historic importance of Trico, and the importance of its former factory, I also recognize that Trico is long gone, headquartered in Michigan, and making blades in Brownsville and Matamoros. The building is, to me, subjectively hideous – an eyesore, and refurbishing a former factory – regardless of how historically important – into a medical research facility is impractical, and something the BNMC simply doesn’t want to do. They want a 21st century facility, not a 19th century facility. This is before we even get to the environmental cleanup that any adaptive reuse would entail. My sympathies default to people, jobs, and the future.

4. The Valenti/Brocuglio dynamic duo is back in / still in WNY, depending on whom we’re talking about, and their residential landlord got shafted at Eden court in her eviction effort. The former owners of Valenti’s restaurant have until the end of March to move out of their home, and Judge Zittel did not order a judgment for back rent dating to December.

5. I remember watching the Little Rascals after school when I was a kid, those little unsupervised, depression-era scamps were often tussling with the truant officer. Perhaps it’s time that school districts with big absentee problems revisit this idea.

6. There was a lot of hubbub yesterday about a map released by a special master appointed by a federal judge to try and resolve the ongoing fight over congressional redistricting in New York. Locally, the issue was the fact that both Brian Higgins and Kathy Hochul reside within the redrawn 27th district. Suffice it to say, the court’s map is not in any way final, but it will be the default map should the parties be unable to come to a separate agreement. It happens every time, and acts as a catalyst to move negotiations forward. What does seem likely, however, is that Louise Slaughter’s district will be re-drawn to return her influence to the Rochester area only, and out of the Buffalo metro. NYS Judicial Redistricting Map

7. Ron Paul has won a whopping 47 delegates during this primary season. The margin of Romney’s lead over Santorum in the delegate race is more than 200 delegates. Why the hell is he still in the Presidential race?

8. In response to news that the government is looking to get rid of over 800 jobs at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve base, Republican Congressional candidate David Bellavia tweeted this:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/DavidBellavia/status/177124836504645633″%5D

Well, not really. I received a press release that Schumer, Gillibrand, Hochul, Slaughter, and Higgins jointly released, reading as follows:

“We call on the Air Force to reverse this decision and to identify a new mission for the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. As a united delegation, along with the support of Governor Cuomo, we will continue to fight to protect this base, the positions it supports, and the thousands of Western New Yorkers that rely on its services.

“The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is an essential part of our nation’s military force, and we will not rest in the effort to find a new mission.”

Furthermore, Republicans are usually very, very opposed to things like government stimulus of the economy and government employment vs. private sector employment. Somehow, those principles get thrown out the window whenever we’re talking about military spending. The truth is, the air base has a stimulative effect on the regional economy, and losing it diminish that. Also, it’s false to suggest that the local delegation isn’t working to keep that stimulus spending here.

9. Barack Obama is going to have an easy time running on his international affairs record, and sought yesterday to calm the rhetoric coming mostly from the right, agitating for a new war in the Persian Gulf, this time against Iran. Speaking of the unemployed Santorum, Gingrich, and Romney:

The president was withering in his retort. “Those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities,” Mr. Obama said. “They’re not commander in chief. When I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I’m reminded of the costs involved in war” — for those who go into combat, for national security and for the economy. “This is not a game,” he added. “And there’s nothing casual about it.”

“If some of these folks think that it’s time to launch a war, they should say so, and they should explain to the American people exactly why they would do that and what the consequences would be,” he said.

We need another war like we need another 2008 global financial meltdown. But not to be outdone, Senator John McCain suggested that we ought to bomb Syria due to the political and humanitarian crisis being created by the fascist Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on a months-long popular uprising. It may soon become time for military intervention in Syria, as we took part in in Libya. However, this would need to be a multilateral effort, with the Arab League taking the lead in demanding the intervention. Efforts to do that through the UN Security Council were unsuccessful, due to China’s and Russia’s positions as the permanent member protectors of brutal authoritarian regimes, and the veto that goes with it.

10. Jim Heaney interviews former ECHDC / Sabres guy Larry Quinn, who has some choice words for the risible “lighter, faster, cheaper” method of planning for the inner harbor.