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First Niagara to move 200 employees to Larkin Bldg.

First Niagara Financial Group is setting up "regional market centers" in all of its geographic markets to unite key sales groups, with one of the first taking over an entire floor in downtown Buffalo's Larkin at Exchange Building.

Several of the savings bank's key sales groups, including insurance and leasing, and about 200 employees will be moved to downtown Buffalo by early summer as a result of the initiative. The groups are currently housed at several locations, including the savings bank's administrative headquarters in Pendleton.

Bringing them together will allow them to work more collaboratively. The thrift said it chose the Larkin building because all employees can work together on one floor, in 60,000 square feet of space. The office will be on the ninth floor.

"We're putting them together so they can get to know each other and support each other," said spokeswoman Leslie Garrity. "It's designed to have people work together from the different business units to enhance sales opportunities."

The new regional centers are part of the company's strategic plan to bring a broader array of products and a "team approach" to serving customers' full financial needs. The goal is to deepen relationships with customers, and ultimately to boost revenues.

For the Larkin Building, landing First Niagara for an entire floor represents a big coup, said Howard Zemsky, partner in City View, the building's developer.

First Niagara took the last full floor available in the 10-floor building, which will now be 90 percent leased. Only 50,000 of the building's 600,000 square feet of space is now vacant.

A former warehouse that was acquired by City View in July 2002, the Larkin building began leasing office space in the spring of 2003. Today, Kaleida, Capital Management and U.S. Customs & Border Patrol occupy almost four full floors. Other big tenants include law firms Harris Beach and Kavinoky Cook, public relations firm Travers Collins, insurer Nova Casualty, and cable firm Adelphia Communications.


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