Paul J. Kolkmeyer, the banker-turned-real estate developer and property owner, is a leading contender to buy five prominent downtown office buildings from longtime owner David L. Sweet, but a final deal may yet remain elusive.
Kolkmeyer, who owns Priam Enterprises LLC, this week confirmed well-established market rumors that he is “one of a number of people who has looked” at the Rand, Main Court and three other Main Street buildings in the central business district but denied that he has them under contract or that a closing has been scheduled.
“There is no deal that has been struck that is a final deal,” he said. “There is no closing scheduled, because nothing is finalized.”
He said he may still be in the running for the package of office facilities but was not certain, nor was he aware of anyone else in particular who was also vying for them. And he said there is “lots of work to do” on the buildings and any potential deal before anything could be finalized.
“It’s just way to early to make any comment about anything at this point,” he said.
Sweet, a figure in the downtown real estate community since the 1970s, owns the Rand at 14 Lafayette Square, the Main Seneca Building at 237 Main, the Main Court Building at 436 Main, and the Roblin and Stanton buildings at 241 and 251 Main. The five office buildings have a total of 760,137 square feet of rentable space on 64 floors and are assessed at $12 million. The oldest dates from 1873, with another constructed in 1902 and the Rand built in 1929.
Sweet has owned them through his Main Seneca Corp. for as long as 40 years but is now in his mid-80s, and his three daughters are not interested in taking over the real estate empire, leading him to consider a sale earlier this year.
He has not identified the individual with whom he has been negotiating. But knowledgeable real estate sources in the community said it’s Kolkmeyer, the former accountant and First Niagara Financial Group CEO who became active in real estate development after he was ousted from the bank in 2006. However, the sources said the parties are still working out significant issues, including the financing.
Kolkmeyer started Priam in 2007 and has focused particularly on developing and managing apartment buildings and student housing complexes in Western New York. The firm manages the Dun Building, Lofts at 136, Morris Manor and Mercer Commons. Kolkmeyer had also sought to work with Greenleaf Development in 2010 to buy and redevelop the former Spaghetti Warehouse building into loft apartments, but that effort fell through.