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State DOT heading to 100 Seneca

The state Department of Transportation's Buffalo office appears to be headed to an address all its own as the state makes plans to vacate the Donovan State Office Building.

Based on documents filed with the city Planning Board, the local DOT office, with its 250-plus workers will relocate to 100 Seneca St., an office building owned by Ellicott Development Co. The DOT, the largest Donovan Building tenant, will be the sole occupant of the five-story, nearly 80,000-square-foot office building.

The expected lease would go a long way to secure the DOT's long-term presence downtown. Last fall, state DOT officials considered overhauling the regional headquarters system, potentially moving the bulk of local DOT functions to Rochester.

Carl Paladino, a principal of Ellicott Development, said it is premature to discuss the state's plans for the building, the former home of Empire of America Federal Savings Bank, and later Empire of America Realty Credit Corp. For several years, the "Big E" logo and a large digital time and temperature display at the top of the building were downtown landmarks.

Jennifer Morris, a spokeswoman for the state Office of General Services, declined to comment on the expected DOT move except to say that the office is continuing to complete plans to relocate all of the Donovan Building's tenants from 125 Main St. to new quarters ahead of the planned demolition of the state-owned office tower.

Ellicott Development is said to be negotiating with the Office of General Services for additional Donovan Building tenants for two other downtown office sites. Iskalo Development, which owns the landmark Electric Tower at Roosevelt Square, is also said to be in line for state tenants.

Morris confirmed that the state's original timetable, which would have seen the Donovan Building vacated by the end of 2005, has been pushed back a few months.

"There will definitely be some offices departing by the end of the year, but the building probably won't be completely empty until the end of the first quarter of 2006," she said.

The McGuire Group, a nursing home operator with headquarters at 100 Seneca St., will move to 560 Delaware Ave. Erie Community College recently moved a training center out of the building.

Last December, the Office of General Services issued a request for proposals from downtown landlords for office space for the approximately 430 state workers housed in the Donovan Building, located near the foot of Main Street, across from Memorial Auditorium. The 146,000-square-foot state building is slated to be demolished to make room for a combination parking deck/intermodal transportation center, which will be linked to Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store planned for Memorial Auditorium.

The Donovan Building is expected to be razed early next spring as construction gets under way for the Bass Pro project.


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