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Possible Statler Owners, Elected Officials to Get a Room

by on October 1, 2009

Can somebody buy the damn Statler Towers already? The perpetual struggle to find an owner for the iconic yet largely unoccupied hotel, which has been seemingly dragging since just after Millard Fillmore lived on the spot, isn’t ending soon even though some guys may have bought it. Or perhaps not:

The prospective new owners of the Statler Towers were granted a two-month extension to close on their deal to acquire the historic Niagara Square landmark.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Carl Bucki okayed the extension late Tuesday afternoon, following a 45-minute closed-door session in his chambers and a 100-minute hearing in his courtroom. The extension is the latest twist in a complex series of legal maneuvers that have been going on for nearly one year.

Keep taking your time, guys:

The extension was sought by New Buffalo Statler Redevelopment LLC , a local development group who bid $1.3 million for the 18-story landmark during an Aug. 12 bankruptcy court-imposed auction. The extension is the second Bucki has granted New Buffalo Statler Redevelopment for a deal that was supposed to close on Aug. 28.

The biggest issue? The hopeful owners aren’t done begging yet:

New Buffalo Statler Redevelopment attorney David Pfalzgraf Jr. said the extension, which pushed back the closing date from Sept. 30 to Nov. 30, was needed because of the complexities involved in the transaction. The development team is not only working on the closing costs, but also securing public and private financing for their proposed $100 million renovation of the architecturally elegant but financially troubled building.

Pfalzgraf said negotiations are underway with city, state and county agencies about financial incentives for the deal.

Will they accept cash? They’ll justify their request for our involuntary financial support by claiming such an infusion will create local jobs. Of course, they’ll actually be taking money away from people who might create new positions on their own. They’re mixing up the cliché: they’d actually be taking money to make money.

Maybe the could-be owners should spend only their own capital. Then, they can try to attract customers who voluntarily patronize their useful building, which will in turn lead to profit. Sound fair? Unfortunately, allowing risk to exist isn’t popular among many of today’s politicians, even though their drained constituents have grown sick of protecting private businesses against failure.

Business welfare works, or perhaps doesn’t work, just as well as it does on a personal scale. Recipients begin to feel entitled if they never get cut off. And why wouldn’t they? Just like individuals who lived indefinitely on the dole, local companies have come to expect that their monetary requests from the government will be fulfilled automatically.

In the same way, the government needs to learn to say no to fiscal requests from people wealthy enough to buy a hotel. The interested shoppers are residing on Buffalo’s equivalent of Park Place, or at least Pacific Avenue; they can do business without public assistance. E.B. Green’s patrons should have to play by the same rules as the Jim’s Steakout crowd.

The auction victors want to make sure they get our money the easy way, namely without having to attract business or offer services. And why wouldn’t they? They’re playing by the current rules, as absurdly detrimental as they are. The only remedy is to end the game itself by cutting off everyone’s allowance.

Refusing to help finance the hotel buyers won’t make things worse. The article notes there were a grand total of two bids for a gem of a building in a prime location with immense potential. It’s as if paying rich people to purchase things, as often happens in this area, hurts the economy overall.

We should all make a pact to buy our own stuff as long as we’re permitted to keep our own money. In exchange, those of us not involved in the Statler transaction will promise to not demand free stays at a hotel we’d be subsidizing.

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