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M&T signs on as anchor for building on Delaware

M&T Bank has signed on as the anchor tenant for a soon-to-be-built office building on Delaware Avenue in downtown Buffalo.

The Buffalo-based bank and Uniland Development Corp., of Amherst confirmed Wednesday that M&T will lease 68,000-square-feet in the planned 116,000-square-foot, five story building slated for construction this year at 285 Delaware Ave.

"As M&T Bank has expanded over the years, we have added new jobs and absorbed additional office space right here in Buffalo, M&T's home for 150 years," said Keith Belanger, senior vice president, M&T Corporate Services.

"Uniland's new building enables the bank to meet our near-term needs for additional space in downtown Buffalo. And that's good for the bank and good for the city."

While the bank has not determined which departments and employees it will locate at 285 Delaware Ave., M&T anticipates the relocation will result in another 250 to 300 of its staff working in downtown Buffalo.

Currently, some 2,500 of the bank's 14,000 employees work downtown. The bank employs 5,000 workers in Western New York. M&T controls more than 1 million square feet of office and operations space in Western New York, including more than 900,000-square-feet in downtown Buffalo.

In addition to its headquarters building at One M&T Plaza, the bank also has a significant number of workers at M&T Center, at Main and Huron streets, and Lafayette Court, 456 Main St.

Uniland has long been seen as playing a key role in solving the fast-growing bank's space needs. In 2003, Uniland floated an unsuccessful plan to demolish the long-vacant AM&As department store in the 200-block of Main Street, next door to M&T Bank, to make way for a new office tower.

While Uniland never revealed the identity of the ill-fated project's future tenants, it did say it had a "tenant in tow" who would locate some 400 employees in the new building. It was widely speculated that the mystery tenant was M&T Bank.

"We are delighted to include M&T Bank as a member of the Uniland community in downtown Buffalo," said Uniland Executive Vice President Nancy R. Dobson. "It is fitting that a Buffalo institution such as M&T will become the major tenant of our new building, which is designed to reflect the spirit of our city."

The new $10 million building at 285 Delaware Ave., whose design was unveiled by Uniland in mid-February, features dramatic glass bays on its front facade. The structure, designed by Buffalo's Hamilton Houston Lownie, will incorporate 33 underground parking spaces, plus another 73 surface slots in the rear.

Uniland has owned the now-vacant, 1.3 acre parcel for nearly 20 years. The site was once home to National Gypsum's headquarters and later owned by the Boy Scouts of America. As it has sat idle, the grass-covered lot has been used for various downtown festivals.

With M&T taking three of the new building's five floors, Uniland will market the remaining 48,000 square feet to law firms, accountants and others seeking upscale downtown office space. The building is expected to be ready for occupancy in spring 2007.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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