Tonawanda News — Plans are in the works for a long-vacant building on Webster Street after it was recently purchased by former North Tonawanda Mayor David Burgio.
The former Teddy Bear Carpet Co. edifice, empty since the early 2000s, was acquired by the Lumber City Development Corporation in 2006 who sold it earlier this year to Burgio, and his wife, Donna.
The LCDC had owned the building for seven years, with an earnest attempt to turn the three-story, 10,000-square-foot structure into a boutique hotel — a vision meant to tap into the growth of the Riviera Theatre among other downtown successes.
But when that concept fell apart, said Michael Zimmerman, planning and development coordinator for LCDC, they began looking for a new developer.
“It’s a great building and people were interested in it, but not as a hotel,” he said. “Finally we said ‘it’s been vacant for a long time and sitting on a vacant building is not helping anybody.’ If a hotel was going to happen there we would have made it happen. There was no momentum and there was other possibilities there.”
Reaching out to contacts in the real estate world that at one point included former Buffalo Bills quarterback J.P. Losman, the Burgios — with a history of developing two other properties along Webster, in the city at large and around Western New York — closed on the property in April.
But with a $310,000 state grant originally tied to the LCDC’s plan for a boutique hotel still available, Burgio said he is now working through its historic status, like many buildings on the downtown strip, before he finalizes the next stage of his plan.
At this early juncture, he and his wife are looking to start on the first floor, with a loose notion for a restaurant. The Burgios, who sold the Crazy Jakes property to its owner, Greg Doel, last year, and own another office building next door, also have a background operating hotels, but will instead veer toward other ventures.