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Duchscherer Oberst Design PC, an engineering, architecture and planning company, is relocating to a newly refurbished building in the city's bustling Chippewa corridor.

The company will occupy 7,500 square feet of space in the former Root Building at 70 W. Chippewa St. President David C. Duchscherer said the relocation is scheduled to take place on Thanksgiving weekend when the company will move from its current quarters at 737 Delaware Ave. near Summer Street.

"We feel that moving right into the downtown core further demonstrates our commitment to Buffalo," said Duchscherer. "We're all only as strong as the city."

Duchscherer Oberst Design will occupy the fourth floor of a building that is now called the Metropole. The first two floors are occupied by Emerson Vocational High School which recently launched a culinary arts program at the site. Emerson plans on opening a restaurant there this fall, an establishment that will be staffed by high school students.

Joseph Petrella, vice president of 70 W. Chippewa Corp., the company that has spearheaded the $8 million renovation of the vacant structure, confirmed Wednesday that the developer has ruled out plans to convert some of the upper floors into apartments. Petrella said the costs associated with the residential conversion would have been substantial and would have required the developer to seek public subsidies.

Instead, the developer will market the upper floors as commercial space. Petrella said talks are under way with prospective tenants.

Duchscherer said about $200,000 is being spent on renovations on the fourth floor. Staffers from the architectural firm designed the floor plan.

"This makes it even more exciting for us. It's always nice to move into space you had a hand in designing," he said.

Duchscherer said the new layout embraces an "open office" concept and is adjacent to 1,000 square feet of additional space that the company might lease to accommodate a future expansion. The firm currently employs 28 people and Duchscherer projected that four or five additional staffers will be added within a year.

Company executives considered several other sites before deciding on the Metropole. Duchscherer said the building on West Chippewa is centrally located and in close proximity to some of the firm's largest clients, including the city of Buffalo, the Buffalo Board of Education, Erie County government and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.

Duchscherer Oberst Design moved onto Delaware Avenue five years ago after operating in Kenmore for about 40 years. Duchscherer said company staffers are excited about moving into the same building that houses the school district's newest educational program.

"It's going to be nice to be around young people on a daily basis," he said. "We've even talked about purchasing some of the meals that these culinary students prepare for some of our company functions."

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