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Uniland buys out Acquest on Dulski conversion project

Amherst's Uniland Development Co. is now the sole owner of the former Thaddeus J. Dulski Federal Office Building on Delaware Avenue in downtown Buffalo.

Uniland has bought out its joint venture partner, Buffalo-based Acquest Development Co., and will continue the $85 million conversion of the government office building to a mix of hotel, office and condominium space.

A statement released by the former partners Tuesday indicated Acquest wants to focus on other "several high profile projects in the U.S. and Mexico." The sale has been under consideration for several months and "bears no relationship to the current economic news," the statement said.

Neither company revealed the value of the buyout.

The 15-story building now known as "Avant" -- was gutted down to its steel infrastructure and is being completely reskinned as part of its conversion.

Uniland Vice President Michael J. Montante said the ownership change will have no impact on the project, which is slated for phased completions next June through September.

"Acquest's participation has been invaluable during the concept and planning stage of the project," Montante said. "We have shared several successful project with Acquest in the past, continue to have projects we are working on together today, and fully expect to work as joint venture partners on new projects in the future."

The two high-profile development companies purchased the vacant Dulski building in an online federal property auction in September 2006. The firms snared the 470,000-square-foot building for $6.1 million.

The companies co-developed the Niagara Centre, at 130 S. Elmwood Ave., which has become the Buffalo's de facto federal building, housing many of the large agencies that formerly were in the Dulski building.

They were also partners on The Federal Center, at 138 Delaware Ave., which houses the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Huntress and Uniland's chief, Carl J. Montante Sr., are currently partners in a resort and luxury residential compound under development on Mexico's Baja Peninsula.

Avant, located at the corner of Delaware Avenue and West Huron Street, will feature a seven-floor Hilton Embassy Suites Hotel, five floors of Class A office space, and three floors of condominiums.

Buffalo law firm Damon & Morey LLP has signed on to lease 50,000-square-feet on the building's 11th and 12th floors.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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