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Common Council Sued Over Trico Building

Terrence A. Robinson, a member of the City of Buffalo Preservation Board, has filed an Article 78 proceeding against the Buffalo Common Council because of its failure to landmark the Trico Plant No. 1.

“The April 30, 2013 determination totally undermined the credibility and authority of the Buffalo Preservation Board and its role as the public body tasked with the review, establishment, and monitoring of landmark sites in the City of Buffalo,” the suit claims.

The city’s preservation code is in place to “preserve, protect, perpetuate and utilize landmarks, landmark sites, historic districts, neighborhoods, areas, places, buildings, structures and improvements which have a distinctive character or are of historic, aesthetic, architectural, archeological or cultural interest or value to this City, state or nation…Avoid demolition of historically or architecturally important properties and…Preserve the economic and architectural integrity of vacant or underutilized landmark properties by means of substantial rehabilitation and adaptive reuse,” according to the lawsuit.

Trico Plant No. 1 is a historic landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is also listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places. Robinson’s argument is that it is also a public building. In June 2007, the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and the Buffalo Brownfield Restoration Corporation entered into a designated developer agreement for the building. In September 2007, BNMC and FNUB (one of the myriad foundations spun off to support the State University of New York at Buffalo) purchased the Trico and M. Wile buildings and their parking lots from the estate of Stephen B. Garvey. Money from the State University Construction Fund then reimbursed FNUB for the purchase. The lawsuit points out the millions of dollars of public money that have traded hands in connection with the building already.

The suit also lists the reasons why the Common Council’s failure to designate Trico a local landmark was arbitrary and capricious, citing various clauses in the city charter. It charges that the Common Council abused its power by disregarding facts produced on the record. Robinson requests a declaratory judgment on the whether the site is protected under the public buildings law considering the financial interest New York State has in the building, as well as a judgment on the initial term of the designated developer agreement.

Robinson will argue his case before State Supreme Court Justice James H. Dillon on the fourth floor of 25 Delaware Avenue, Wednesday, August 28, at 9:30am.

Click here to view a copy of the verified petition (PDF).

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