In a case of “your tax dollars at work,” the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is now on the hunt for as much as 61,000 square feet of office space in downtown Buffalo, as its current lease expires in just over a year.
The U.S. General Services Administration, on behalf of the federal tax-collection agency, issued a request this week for offers of a 10-year lease, to begin Dec. 13, 2014.
The agency’s primary local office is currently housed at 130 S. Elmwood Ave., where it shares 61,334 square feet of space with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the week, and its staff accepts payments, provides information, answers questions, helps with preparation of certain forms, takes applications and provides multi- lingual assistance.
But the lease at South Elmwood expires in December 2014, so the GSA is putting it back out for bid in an effort “to deliver on its mission to provide the best value and services to our federal partners and the American people and get property off of the federal books,” said GSA spokesman Patrick J. Sclafani.
The IRS also has an office in the AppleTree Business Park in Cheektowaga and smaller offices around the region. But Sclafani said the bidding process is not a deliberate relocation or consolidation of multiple offices, but just a “full and open competition of an expiring lease.” He said the agency’s current landlord, Acquest Development, is expected to submit an offer.
“They’re contemplating a move and assessing the market,” said Steve Blake, a partner at CBRE’s Buffalo office. He said he is handling all inquiries for the GSA search. “They’ve hired us to find them alternatives.”
Blake said he did not know the agencies’ plans, nor did he know how much space they have now or how many employees. The IRS did not respond to requests to comment.
According to a notice on the GSA’s Federal Business Opportunities website, the government is looking for a minimum of 56,027 square feet and a maximum of 61,334 square feet, in an area effectively bounded by the Scajaquada Expressway, the Kensington Expressway, Michigan Avenue and the Niagara Thruway.
The property must have at least 20 parking spaces, mostly in a structure, and the space must meet government requirements for fire safety, accessibility, seismic and sustainability standards. It cannot be in the flood plain. “The building will follow standard security guidelines,” Sclafani said.
All expressions of interest are due by Aug. 30, with a market survey to be conducted by Sept. 17, and formal offers due by Nov. 25.
The GSA is working exclusively with Blake, who is reaching out to each of the area developers to “identify options.” But the primary marketing venue is the GSA’s website.