It looks like the final chapter in the Statler Towers saga is about to be written. After years of changing hands and broken promises of restored glory, the Staler will be shuttered after the new year. The most recent failings of the Statler Redevelopment Group has left the bankruptcy judge with no other option, but to shut down the once beautiful facility.
For years the Staler was the grandest of downtown Buffalo hotels. It was considered a luxury hotel with the nicest ballroom in the area. Anyone who was someone stayed in the Staler when coming to town. My mother, a former switchboard operator at the hotel, tells stories of all the sports legends that passed through the doors during a stint against the hometown hero Bills, Braves, or Sabres.
But, as the 80's approached the Statler's demise came. The Hyatt and Waterfront Hilton were the new choices for out of towners. The Statler also began feeling it's age, losing tenants and ultimately it's hotel name. Redevelopment in the 90's brought in new tenants, but not enough to keep the building functioning and disrepair became the motto. Without enough money to make improvements, more tenants left and so became the entry into receivership.
As this proud history was unraveling the city and it's litany of inactive leaders stood by and watched. Over the course of this demise, a new baseball stadium was built for major league dreams, Adelphia was given money for its grand waterfront tower, and Route 5 along Fuhrman blvd. was reconstructed - twice. These are just a few of the projects that sucked up tax dollars with little or no return. The Statler wasn't the only downtown gem to be wasted, but it had the best chance of survival.
Since the 90's at least 3 hotels have been built or refurbished downtown with public dollars. There is also the current debate over which hotel will be built on the waterfront. I have an idea instead of building new, why don't we spend the money on the jewel that could be the Statler. Maybe we've forgotten, but it was meant to be a hotel.
I know Brown's record on public lending is atrocious, but what's he saving his development dollars for, the next One Sunset? Here's an opportunity for the city to back the Statler Redevelopment group with a pledge of public funds. Knowing that there are public funds available will help the group secure the private investment dollars they need. This could help get the building back on track along with keeping 9 people employed in the building.
If Brown was to have his economic development people step in and help, he'd have one of his best photo opportunities yet. He'd be the mayor that wants to save Buffalo's treasures. But, if he chooses to go his normal path and do nothing, the once grand Statler chandelier will come crashing down.