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UB Increases Investment in Downtown Buffalo, BNMC Secures Space to Grow Life Sciences Economy

By Arthur Page

Release Date: September 21, 2007

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and its partner the University at Buffalo today emerged in federal bankruptcy court as the successful bidders for two major properties in downtown Buffalo.

The former M. Wile Co. building on the southeast corner of Goodell and Ellicott streets and the former Trico Products Corp. building complex on the northwest corner of Goodell and Ellicott streets and their respective parking lots were purchased for $20,090,000. Both properties will remain on the public tax rolls.

The purchase secures these strategic properties for future use in conjunction with the goals of UB and those of the BNMC.

UB plans to make the M. Wile Building, more recently known as Century Centre 2, its sixth property in downtown Buffalo. UB President John B. Simpson said purchase of the structure by the UB Foundation underscores the university's plans to increase its commitment to, and footprint in, downtown Buffalo.

Matthew K. Enstice, executive director of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, said, "The BNMC is committed to cultivating a world-class medical campus for clinical care, research, education, and entrepreneurship."

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown hailed the purchase of the two properties by UB and the BNMC.

"This is a significant day for UB, the City of Buffalo and all of our partners in the BNMC," he said. "One year ago, President Simpson laid out a bold vision for an expanded university with a third campus in downtown Buffalo. He has shown that UB is very serious about investing in Buffalo with this important acquisition."

"My administration has worked closely with UB, the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus on four parcels in the vicinity of the medical campus, which would enhance and strengthen our ongoing efforts to attract and foster incubators and start-up businesses connected to the life sciences," Brown added.

The Rev. Michael Chapman, pastor of St. John Baptist Church in the Fruit Belt adjacent to the medical campus, added, "We have been working with UB and our other partners within the medical corridor to revitalize this area of downtown Buffalo, including the Fruit Belt neighborhood that adjoins it.

"It is a great joy to see that the University at Buffalo is making good on its promise to invest in Buffalo," Chapman added. "Together, with the tremendous investments being made by the St. John Community Development Corporation and other stakeholders, we can reinvigorate the City of Buffalo."

"This is just the first step in creating a more vibrant presence for UB in downtown Buffalo," Simpson noted. "This purchase synchronizes perfectly with UB's plans to grow by 40 percent between now and the year 2020. With the development of UB's comprehensive master plan, the growth on our campus centers in Amherst and on Main Street in North Buffalo will be accomplished within our existing campus perimeters, in downtown Buffalo we will be creating new spaces and programs.

"The purchase of an existing, recently renovated structure allows the university to move ahead to expand immediately UB's presence in downtown Buffalo and enable it to bring several of its major public-service programs into closer proximity to the citizens and organizations they serve," he added.

The UBF plans to honor the contracts of the building's two tenants -- the Buffalo and Erie County Work Force Development Consortium and URS Corp. -- and to rent the remaining space to the university for its programs.

UB's current plans anticipate moving its Regional Institute, a number of its pre-K-16 initiatives and the Center on Rehabilitation Synergy, a program of its Graduate School of Education that provides training, education and research for professionals working with individuals with disabilities, into the building during the next 20 months. Additional programs also will be identified to move into the building.

Regarding purchase of the Trico property, Enstice said, "This acquisition provides the space for the BNMC to continue growing the life sciences economy in downtown Buffalo," he added. "It allows us the opportunity to build on the momentum of the recent move by publicly traded Cleveland BioLabs to Buffalo from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and to attract more private sector companies to invest in the area."

The Trico Products Corp. building consists of two structures, a vacant six-story building at the corner of Goodell and Ellicott streets that housed the Trico manufacturing plant and an adjoining four-story building.

The sales were confirmed by federal bankruptcy judge Warren W. Bentz in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in Erie. The bids were placed by the BNMC.

The two properties are being purchased free of outstanding debts, including back property taxes, from Stephen B. McGarvey LLC and its affiliate, Century Centre LP, both of which filed last fall for bankruptcy protection. McGarvey, an Erie-based developer, died in 2005.

Closing on the sale of the properties is expected to occur in four weeks.

Century Centre 2 is located two blocks south of UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Health Sciences at Ellicott and Virginia streets. Other locations are the Educational Opportunity Center at 465 Washington Street; the Research Institute on Addictions at 1021 Main St.; the Jacobs Executive Development Center at 672 Delaware Ave.; and the Ira G. Ross Eye Institute, which will house the clinical programs of the Department of Ophthalmology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and will open later this fall at 1176 Main St.