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State development agency to move to Cobblestone area

Empire State Development Corp. will move its upstate headquarters to Buffalo's Cobblestone District next spring.

The state agency, along with its Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation subsidiary, are headed to an idle industrial warehouse complex at the corner of Perry and Mississippi streets, one block east of HSBC Arena. Savarino Cos. and Avalon Development Corp., the owners of the former Benlin Distribution Services building, last month announced a $12 million plan to turn the five-story warehouse into a mix of office, residential and retail space.

"This move emphasizes our commitment to join with developers and investors who are finding unique and creative ways to reuse some of the venerable, older properties in the city," said ESDC Upstate Chairman Daniel C. Gundersen.

The upstate development czar also noted that his agency's future home, 95 Perry, is "just a stone's throw" away from the Erie Canal Harbor and the site of the proposed "Canal Side" project. The state agency's harbor development arm is overseeing that $275 million effort, which includes a Bass Pro Shops store where Memorial Auditorium now stands.

Under the agreement signed with Savarino and Avalon, the state agency will lease 25,000-square-feet of space on the top two floors of the redone warehouse, tripling the size of its current offices.

The developer will create office space to accommodate some 55 Empire State and Erie Canal Harbor development agency staffers, along with a large conference room.

The state agency currently leases approximately 9,400 square feet of space on two floors in the Liberty Building, at Main and Court streets. It has agreed to a 10-year lease, with renewal options, at the Cobblestone site.

Sources said the Erie County Industrial Development Agency is eyeing a move from its offices at 275 Oak St. in downtown Buffalo to the 95 Perry building. The potential common address is aimed at creating "one-stop development shopping."

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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