New Era Cap plans to begin work this spring on transforming the old Federal Reserve Building into its world headquarters now that the Common Council has taken key votes that advance the $10 million project.
The international sports cap manufacturers plans to renovate the building at 160 Delaware Ave. as it relocates its Derby headquarters to the downtown business district. About 300 workers will occupy the site within three years, including 120 new hires.
The face-lift will include a museum-style lobby and a community room that will be made available to Little League teams, neighborhood groups and other organizations.
The move also will free up space at New Era's current Derby headquarters, allowing the company to expand its production facility and add 120 jobs at the plant over three years.
"This is a tremendous project, not just for downtown Buffalo, but for the entire region," said Douglas W. Dimitroff of Phillips Lytle, the law firm that has been helping steer the New Era project through various city agencies.
The Council took three actions Tuesday that were required for the project to move forward. Lawmakers backed a plan to put New Era's Buffalo and Derby projects in state Empire Zones, allowing the expansions to benefit from incentives. The state's main development agency also has committed $3.4 million to the project.
The Council also approved design plans that include a front entrance canopy and a curb cut for a drop-off area. Finally, lawmakers concurred with the city Planning Board that the project will have no negative impact on the environment.
Company officials asked the city to take the actions by the end of February in hopes that work could begin in March. Dimitroff said the goal is to complete the renovations by September.
New Era makes official uniform caps for Major League Baseball and licensed caps for the NHL, NBA and other sports.