Paladino requests ECIDA help at Graystone

March 29, 2012 Updated Mar 29, 2012 at 6:37 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by James Fink

March 29, 2012 Updated Mar 29, 2012 at 6:37 AM EDT

A series of incentives from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency are considered crucial for Ellicott Development Co. to push forward with its renovation of the historic Graystone Hotel.

The ECIDA has set an April 9 public hearing to consider the incentive package, with the full board expected to vote on the deal during its April 16 meeting.

Ellicott Development, through its 5182 Group LLC affiliate, is seeking incentives, mostly in the form of sales tax breaks, on its proposed $5.3 million renovation of the 45,000-square-foot S. Johnson Park building that has been vacant for more than two decades and had been considered an eyesore, despite its historic status, until the current restoration effort began.

Ellicott wants to turn the former hotel, which was constructed between 1894 and 1897, into 42 upscale, market-rate apartments. A mix of one-bedroom and two-bedroom units are proposed.

"We can't do this project without the incentives," said Carl Paladino, Ellicott Development chairman. "We are basically resurrecting a building that was built like an Erector Set."

Paladino said the project has been plagued by a series of unexpected and "unforeseen" costs including shoring up decaying load-bearing walls and support beams.

The ECIDA incentives could help save as much as 15 percent of the project's development costs.

The project is being applauded in many quarters for saving a historic building that was facing an uncertain future until Ellicott Development and Paladino stepped in with its development plan.

The Buffalo Planning Board and Buffalo Zoning Board of Appeals have both signed off and approved the project.

"If we don't get the ECIDA help, I'm not sure about the Graystone's future," Paladino said.

The Graystone, named after the Graystone Hotel, has been sitting empty for more than a decade. The building, designed by Carlton Strong, was constructed between 1894 and 1897. It is considered one of the best local examples of Italian Renaissance-style architect in Buffalo.

The National Register of Historic Places put the Graystone on its list in 1987.

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