CENTRAL TERMINAL FIRM SUES TO GET IRS AS TENANT AMENDED COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOVERNMENT FOR PICKING APPLETREE MALL SITE
July 30, 1992
By RICK STOUFFER – News Business Reporter
Attorneys representing Buffalo Central Terminal Ltd. have filed a motion in U.S. District Court to amend an original complaint against the federal government’s decision to move Internal Revenue Service offices to Cheektowaga.
The amended complaint alleges that representatives of the General Services Administration, the government’s space procurement arm, were wrong in awarding a lease to the AppleTree Mall over a bid representing space at the New York Central Terminal. The disputed 65,000 square feet of space houses the Internal Revenue Service’s Taxpayer Services Division.
The amended charge urges District Court to declare the award to AppleTree null and void, to reassess all offers and to award what would be a lucrative lease to Buffalo Central Terminal Ltd. The IRS commenced operations at the mall on Jan. 14,1991.
“The award has to be nullified — about that there is no question,” said Mark J . Fuzak, the attorney who for nearly two years has been pursuing the federal government for Buffalo Central Terminal Ltd. partners Sam and Bernie Tuchman. The Tuchmans exercised an option on the property last January and are negotiating a purchase price with title holder Thomas Telesco.
US Attorney Dennis Vacco, whose office is defending the federal government and the GSA representatives, was not available to comment.
Fuzak hopes his motion allowing the filing and serving of an amended complaint is granted since the original complaint was filed without the benefit of discovery, the usual pretrial search for information. In the last 19 months, testimony from nine witnesses has been taken over 19 days.
Among the charges Fuzak levels in the amended complaint:
While price was allegedly as important as such factors as location and proximity to public transportation and restaurants, the final offer submitted by the supposed owner of AppleTree, Woodfield-Chapin Associates, was at least $132,000 more per year than Central Terminal Ltd.’s bid.
No GSA decision-maker ever viewed the interior of the terminal site’s five-story office building, which was being offered to the IRS. In fact, all criteria for dismissing the site as a viable candidate were based on the 14-story terminal building.
The Central Terminal site had the written or oral support of New York Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Alphonse D’Amato, Rep. Henry Nowak, Mayor Griffin and Buffalo’s Common Council.
The GSA concluded that the terminal’s main terminal and office building were not historic structures, when both are listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. Federal law mandates that, all other factors being equal, preference should be given to the reuse of historic structures.
Fuzak realizes he’s treading relatively new ground; there is little case law on the books where the loser in securing a lease from the federal government turns around and sues Washington. The reason is simple: in many cases, the losers want a chance to bid again on future leases. Suing virtually assures the Tuchmans that they will never be considered for government tenants again.
“Sam didn’t want to go through this again — that’s why we’re pursuing it,” Fuzak said. “We feel that we should be awarded the lease on the law. ”
The motion is expected to be heard in early October by Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio.
Copyright (C) 1992, The Buffalo News Record Number: BFNW22130501