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Why isn't anything happening with the AM&A's redevelopment?

City leader threatens legal action if answers are not provided by the owner
Posted at 6:36 PM, Oct 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-31 18:36:46-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Patience is running out concerning the redevelopment of the old AM&A's department store building in downtown Buffalo.

"What I am not going to do the next two years is sit back and just hope they do something with this building," said Ellicott District Councilmember Darius Pridgen.

The councilmember and Buffalo Common Council president plans to introduce a resolution demanding the owners, Landco H&L, provide a written report of "where this project is." The councilmember wants answers within two weeks time or he will ask the city to consider taking other legal action - such as filing lawsuits or taking control of the property.

The AM&A's building was purchased in 2014 by Landco H&L with hopes of turning the 10-story building into a 300-room Wyndham-brand hotel. The project was supposed to be completed by 2017 -2018.

However, structural problems with an underground vault caused such a threat that concrete barriers and fencing continue to partially close a one-block portion of Washington Street. Detour signs restrict traffic and pedestrian use near the structure.

Landco H&L is based out of the New York City area and has Chinese owners.

According to the Buffalo News, Landco H&L has hired the Savarino Companies from Buffalo to takeover management of the redevelopment project.

While that might be positive, added Pridgen, it won't mean much if Landco is not committed to finishing. "I don't care if you bring in the Wizard of Oz. It is not going to get done unless that owner insists and puts the finances in there," explained Pridgen.

"We don't have people driving by and we don't have people walking by. It is kind of a ghost town," said Eddie Fibich.

Fibich opened his Dark Horse Hair Studio in the Brisbane Building in 2017 thinking it would be a business hot spot. The Hotel Lafayette, across the street, was re-done, and the AM&A's building, next door, was in the process of being redeveloped. "I thought what a perfect time to get into this spot," said Fibich.

More than two years later, the situation with traffic/pedestrian detours continues to chase people away.

Frustrated with the situation on Washington Street, Fibich said he opened a second location in East Aurora so his business could expand - and the difference was huge. "We are seeing 14-15 walk-ins on weekdays over there (East Aurora). Here (Washington Street) I am lucky if I get one or two," added Fibich.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more from the business owner in the attached report.