Buffalo Development Corporation
Statler City, LLC
Article and photo by Kyle Patterson
Mark Croce didn't need the Statler Towers. It wasn't that he didn't have enough to do. With numerous restaurants and night clubs in Buffalo, the man doesn't need more business opportunities. His restaurants are some of the most successful in the city--Buffalo Chophouse and Darcy McGee's to name a couple. He is also involved in a separate hotel project on Franklin Street and has a family of his own. Yet after years of watching the Statler change ownership, go through bankruptcy proceeding, defaults and failed attempts to develop one of Buffalo’s landmark buildings Mark Croce stepped in, doing what others said couldn’t be done. Even Andrew Rudnick of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership said the property needed to be torn down. Croce however saw what others didn’t and in doing so has made himself the poster boy amongst historic preservation groups who couldn't be more happy with what he is doing. His secret? Restore the Statlerrs to the original intent of the building—an entertainment and hospitality centerpiece in the middle of the city. Where other developers looked at it from a purely office building perspective and doubted the potential, Croce saw the opportunity to capitalize on weddings, banquets, restaurants, a night club, office and residential space and a possible hotel, bringing the building back to life again as a multi-use space. "Everyone has a story about the Statler," Croce said in response to the support his work has garnered from the community. While Buffalo is known for supporting good causes, Croce and the Statlers are no exception. With over 12,000 fans on Facebook, weddings and banquets being booked weekly, Croce is already seeing a return on some of the nearly 4 million dollars he invested in it of his own money. Still waiting for grant money to come from the City of Buffalo for some of the exterior renovations, Croce is moving forward at lightning speed including a successful Ice Ball event on New Years where close to 200 workers were hard at work at any given time in the building. For now though Croce is enjoying a bit of the lime light with his step of faith transforming the once dilapidated building into a cultural icon once again. He appears to have once again succeeded where others said it couldn’t be done.!