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CIMINELLI REPORTEDLY SET TO ACQUIRE FEDERAL RESERVE BANK BUILDING

The Federal Reserve Bank building on Delaware Avenue in downtown Buffalo soon will have a local, private owner.

Several sources familiar with the federal government's efforts to sell the landmark building said Thursday that Ciminelli Development Co. of Amherst has won the bidding. Ciminelli, one of four groups to submit an offer, bid $3.5 million for the 130,000-square-foot building, according to real estate insiders.

"The bidding was aggressive and Ciminelli came out on top," said a source who requested anonymity. "It was a compelling opportunity to get a great building in a prime downtown location."

The building, at 160 Delaware Ave., went on the market in late July with an asking price of $3.9 million.

Neither the Federal Reserve nor Ciminelli would confirm the pending sale. But Kausar Hamdani, manager of the Buffalo Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank, did confirm one bidder has an edge at this point.

"A preferred bidder has been identified," Hamdani said. "But there's not a signed contract, so technically the process is still open, and it's premature to discuss the outcome."

All of the parties are said to be bound by strict confidentiality agreements. The Federal Reserve Bank has remained mum about the sale, declining to reveal the identities or even the number of the bidders.

Mayor Anthony M. Masiello said he would be thrilled if Ciminelli took control of the building and filled it with new downtown workers.

"They're a great company with a proven record of success, so it's great for downtown to have them increase their investment," Masiello said. "It's also great for the city to have a private owner so it gets put on the tax rolls."

Built in 1957, the building is a traditional office building with some major twists. Constructed as a regional banking clearinghouse, it has such odd amenities as a gun turret, an indoor shooting range, shatterproof Mylar windows and three basement vaults.

A 112-seat cafeteria, small gymnasium and two backup generators round out the structure's nonstandard features. It also comes with what's considered a "holy grail" of downtown real estate amenities -- on-premises parking. In addition to a 160-car parking lot, it also has a handful of interior parking bays.

Ciminelli Development, one of the area's largest commercial real estate developers, owns or manages more than 30 commercial properties in the Buffalo area, including the Centerpointe Corporate Park in Amherst and the Key Center and Lafayette Square office complexes in downtown Buffalo.

The Federal Reserve downsized its Buffalo branch because of a national realignment of the bank's operations. In its heyday as a major hub for check processing and savings bonds, the facility had employed more than 300 workers.

It now has just a dozen staffers, all involved in economic forecasting and education. They will move to leased space in Key Center at the end of the year.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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