As developer Douglas Jemal is racing to finish commercial and residential space in buildings around the base of his One Seneca Tower, he received approval from the Buffalo Planning Board Monday for even more construction.
The 40-story tower at Main and Seneca streets has dominated the city skyline since the giant box was built decades ago. It fell into bankruptcy after HSBC and Phillips Lytle moved out. Jemal bought it and has spent apparent millions on actually adding space to the vacant - more than 1 million square feet.
The city Planning Board Monday approved building more space and replacing a blank wall along Pearl Street with a glass wall, opening access inside the parking ramp.
"This is going to add one of the best commercial spaces in the city," said lawyer Jon Pierowicz. "This is going to bring the floor plans on the western side to 43,000 square feet, totaling around 110,000 square feet of commercial space in one of the most desirable places in the city and it's going to add a space that any commercial tenant will be happy to have and occupy."
This is all coming when M&T Bank is looking for a vast allotment of space for its IT operations and perhaps 1,000 parking spaces. Pierowicz said Jemal will talk to prospective tenants.
"Whether it's that tenant or another tenant, some would like larger floor plans if they want to ask us to. If we have those available, then we absolutely do," Pierowicz said. "If they are content to have some of the best views in the entire city on smaller floor plates, then that's a possibility down the road as well."
The building also includes a complex below the Metro Rail line, built for computer operations of the old Marine Midland Bank, and nearly 1,300 parking spaces.
With construction speeding along, retail space is slated to open within weeks, while 115 apartments are scheduled to open by Feb. 15. Pierowicz won't say how much has been spent already.
None of these projects touch the actual bank tower, with its up to 20,000-square-foot floor plates on each floor for downtown Buffalo.
"These are reactivating really the base of the tower, so the annex buildings, those one-story retail complexes and now the addition that we just currently got approval for," said Pierowicz. "So this is really the first aspect of reconverting and really spurring development at that complex."