Statler would donate 32,000 square feet of space to university's law program
State Sen. Marc Panepinto once again called on the University at Buffalo to relocate its law school to the former Michael J. Dillon U.S. Courthouse, launching an online petition for residents to show their support. Joined by Western New York developer and Statler City owner Mark Croce, who announced he is prepared to donate 32,000 square feet of Statler City space, the pair outlined a master plan to rejuvenate multiple historic buildings to provide students with a synergistic educational and residential experience in the heart of Buffalo's downtown corridor.
Last month, Panepinto stood with UB Law alums and members of the legal community to call for the school's relocation to the 183,000-square-foot site. The seven-story former courthouse occupies an entire block in the heart of the downtown corridor situated within walking distance of Statler City and local, state and federal court systems. Now considered excess property after no federal use was found for the site, Panepinto and Croce are calling for its redevelopment.
Panepinto said, "There is no better time than now. Through this strategic public-private partnership with Statler City, we are priming not one, but two pieces of Buffalo's history for revitalization while providing students with a synergistic educational, residential and recreational opportunity. I encourage students, alumni and members of our legal community to express their support through our online petition and once again call on UB to explore this common-sense opportunity."
Following repeated calls to relocate dating back more than a decade, Panepinto launched an online petition Wednesday afternoon to demonstrate community support for the plan. Students, alumni and residents are encouraged to visit the following link to show their support: http://www.nysenate.gov/petitions/marc-panepinto/bring-ub-law-back-buffalo.
A requirement of SUNY UB Law's program includes the completion of externships, clerkships or 50-hour pro bono service hours for entrance to the New York State Bar. Pre-approved externship sites sit within walking distance of Statler City.
Croce's space would encompass one floor of Statler City's three towers at the cost of only $1 per year. In addition to donated classroom and support services space, the site has the potential for up to 400 residential units for university students.
"The sea-change the city has experienced in the last several years is nothing short of extraordinary," Croce said. "People want to live, work and play in downtown Buffalo. I am encouraging the University at Buffalo to take another look at this unique opportunity and help provide our students with an education steeped in Buffalo's rich architectural history."
Currently, O'Brian Hall on the University at Buffalo's North Campus in Amherst provides students with 205,000 square feet of educational and research-explicit space. The facility also plays host to the Graduate School of Education, a cafeteria and miscellaneous office space.
Once ranked 15th in the nation, SUNY Buffalo Law School is currently ranked 87th according to the U.S. News and World Report.