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Developers are preparing to complete a $4 million build-out of the long-vacant south tower of the Key Center at Fountain Plaza, signaling a resurgence in the downtown real estate market, city officials said Friday.

Mayor Masiello's office issued a statement saying the announcement of the tower's completion is imminent, calling the anticipated office development "a huge boost for downtown."

The 11-story south tower at Main and Chippewa streets has been vacant since its construction about five years ago, following completion of a 15-story north tower.

Rather than finish the south tower's interior, owners decided to delay work on the heating, lighting and other interior systems until the downtown rental market improved.

"There can be no better news for downtown than the increase in office tenancy," Masiello's statement said. "More offices mean more workers, more demand for goods and services, more business for restaurants and shops."

The mayor also claimed the building's manager, Emmes Asset Management of New York City, has committed to the build-out of the south tower and is expected to make the announcement shortly.

Work remains to be completed on the building's infrastructure, including heating, electrical and plumbing systems, as well as the fire sprinklers, officials said.

A spokesman for the rental agent, Ciminelli Real Estate Corp., said no leases have been signed yet for the south tower, but that the construction work will begin as soon as tenants are signed for 15,600 square feet, or the equivalent of a single floor.

Ciminelli Vice President James F. Dentinger also said that 97 percent of the space in the north tower is now occupied and the company has noticed a steady upswing in the downtown real estate market.

"I think the improvement has been going on for about a year now," he said. "The Western New York economy is good, and interest rates are favorable for this kind of development."

However, city officials have been told building managers will announce new tenants soon for the south tower, according to Stephen T. Banko, communications director for Masiello.

"We have indications that leases will be signed soon for several floors of the tower," Banko said.

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