Medical campus, UB win bidding for downtown Trico, M. Wile sites
By Sharon Linstedt NEWS BUSINESS REPORTER
Updated: 09/21/07 6:56 AM
Two former manufacturing plants in downtown Buffalo have bright futures courtesy of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and the University at Buffalo.
With a high bid of $20.09 million in an Erie, Pa., federal bankruptcy court, the medical campus gained control Thursday of the idle Trico windshield wiper plant on Ellicott Street north of Goodell Street and the former M. Wile apparel manufacturing site on Ellicott south of Goodell.
The medical campus will redevelop the Trico site for medical research purposes. UB will take ownership of the M. Wile building as part of its mission to increase its presence in downtown Buffalo. It will house such entities as UB’s Regional Institute.
“The acquisition provides space for the [medical campus] to continue growing the life sciences economy in downtown Buffalo,” said Matthew K. Enstice, medical campus executive director. “The [campus] is committed to cultivating a world-class medical campus for clinical care, research, education and entrepreneurship.”
UB President John B. Simpson said buying the M. Wile building underscores the school’s commitment to increasing its presence downtown.
“The purchase of an existing, recently renovated structure allows the university to immediately expand UB’s presence in downtown Buffalo and enables it to bring several of its major public service programs into closer proximity to the citizens and organizations they serve,” Simpson said.
He also noted the purchase “synchronizes perfectly” with UB’s master plan to grow by 40 percent by 2020, with expansions in Amherst, University Heights and downtown.
The high-profile properties were auctioned off Thursday to settle the estate of Stephen B. McGarvey and his Century Centre LP. McGarvey, who died in 2005, burst onto the Buffalo development scene in 1999.
McGarvey bought the dormant Trico plant, planning to convert it to luxury apartments and upscale offices. But health and financial
problems prevented him from getting the project off the ground. He had more success with M. Wile, converting the plant to offices and leasing much of the space.
A mountain of debts, liens, judgments and unpaid taxes totaling more than $23 million stood in the way of a conventional property sale, leading his estate to file for Chapter 11 reorganization and the auction of the properties.
“It was Steve’s foresight in the value of these properties that came to fruition today,” said Guy Fustine, an attorney who represented McGarvey interests.
Fustine called the bidding “dynamic” and said the $20.09 million sale price exceeded his expectations.
“For me personally, I had a $16 million target, and I assumed we’d push up to that, but when the bidding continued, I thought Steve would really be pleased,” Fustine added.
The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus set the stage for the public institution double-play when, before the auction, it offered $13.75 million for both of the properties. Two private companies — Krog Corp., an Orchard Park development firm, and Pyramid Brokerage of Buffalo — competed with the medical campus in more than two hours of spirited bidding in the Erie courtroom.
The three bidders countered each other with more than 50 separate verbal offers. The winning bid comes to $12.4 million for the Trico complex and $8.05 million for M. Wile.
Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown hailed the sale of the structures, saying it opens the door to expansion of the university and the medical campus, while benefiting the city’s economic growth goals.
The mayor said it demonstrates UB “is very serious about investing in Buffalo.” He also noted that his administration has been working closely with the medical campus partners to “enhance and strengthen our ongoing efforts to attract and foster incubators and start-up businesses.”
The sprawling Trico property includes four-story and sixstory buildings with more than 700,000 square feet of space. The larger structure, which has significant roof damage, is empty, while the smaller building has two tenants. The property also includes a 5.3-acre parking lot.
Two tenants occupy 70 percent of the 145,000-square-foot M. Wile building, which also has a parking lot.
The medical campus and UB said they will honor the tenants’ leases.