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Paladino paring his plans for downtown office complex

Buffalo developer Carl P. Paladino is scaling back his blueprints for a new office building in downtown Buffalo.

The City of Buffalo Planning Board has approved Paladino's revised plans for an eight-story office complex at 50 Court St., between Pearl and Franklin streets. Paladino, who has put the project on hold multiple times in face of lawsuits filed by Main Place Mall executives attempting to block construction, said the 11-story tower he planned to build is no longer financially feasible.

"It's now impractical with what's happening in the financial world. The lawsuits put us in a time warp and we lost our window of opportunity to do something bigger and more expensive," he said.

The developer, who has eyed the site since the late 1980s, has proposed several different designs over the years, including mixed use versions with hotel space.

The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, which owns a parcel that is part of the project site, signed off on the design change earlier this month.

Plans approved by the city in 2006 for the 11-story tower carried a $45 million price tag. Paladino did not disclose the expected cost of the scaled-back project.

In addition to reducing the size of the complex, Paladino's Ellicott Development Co. has also altered plans for 150 enclosed parking spaces, to include 12 "secured" parking slots serviced by a private elevator.

Ellicott senior executive Paul Gregory said the segregated parking is a requirement of a potential government tenant. He declined to identify the possible tenant.

Paladino said he intends to start construction next spring.

"I'm working out financing and we're talking with potential tenants. I want to get moving on this early in the [2009] construction season," he said.

Paladino's plans for the site have sparked a series of legal skirmishes involving the owner's of the nearby Main Place Mall. The most recent lawsuit, which put the project on hold for most of 2007 and much of the current construction season, involved the $700,000 deal Paladino negotiated with the city to acquire the publicly-owned land.

Patrick Hotung, general manager of Main Place Mall and the Main Place-Liberty Group, made an 11th-our $1.7 million bid for the property, then headed to court when his offer was ignored.

In August, Paladino countersued Hotung's group over the unsuccessful legal action, seeking $7.8 million in damages and lost revenues he claims resulted from project delays.

The city recently reset the timetable for Paladino to demonstrate progress on the long-delayed project, giving him until mid-August of next year to start construction.


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