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Jaeckle Fleischmann Mugel moving to Avant Building ; City's fourth largest law firm relocating from Fountain Plaza

Two of Buffalo's largest law firms will now occupy space in the same new building, as the city's No. 4 firm announced Thursday that it had found a new home.

Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel LLP said it will relocate to Uniland Development Co.'s Avant Building, taking up 33,000 square feet on two floors and joining Damon Morey LLP in the building.

The full-service corporate law firm, which has about 50 attorneys and 45 staff members in its Buffalo office, will lease the entire ninth floor and 7,000 square feet on the 10th floor at the landmark new building at 200 Delaware Ave., formerly the Dulski Federal Office Building. That's directly below Damon Morey.

Jaeckle is moving from 37,000 square feet on two-and-a-half floors in the Bank of America building at 12 Fountain Plaza, but said that a more efficient layout and much larger floor plate will allow the firm to consolidate and reduce its overall footprint in the building, saving space and money.

The move is expected to take place in the second half of the year. Jaeckle selected Cannon Design to develop its layout and design plans, determine furniture needs and provide construction advisory services. Officials are now in the final stages of layout and obtaining permits.

"Our move to a state-of-the-art, sustainably designed building represents a step into the future, and reinforces our commitment to remain in downtown Buffalo," said partner Joseph Kubarek. "We look forward to welcoming our clients to a state-of-the-art work environment with spectacular views of the Buffalo skyline and waterfront."

Jaeckle's move is the latest by a large Buffalo-area law firm, after Damon Morey moved into Avant and Amherst-based HoganWillig moved across North Forest Road in Amherst to a new environmentally friendly building constructed by Iskalo Development Corp. A few years ago, Hodgson Russ LLP, the biggest law firm in the city, purchased and moved into the Guaranty Building in downtown Buffalo.

And law firm Phillips Lytle LLP, the region's second largest, is considering a move out of One HSBC Center, possibly to a redeveloped Donovan State Office Building or another downtown location. Phillips hired the law firm division of Studley Group, a national consulting firm specializing in real estate for lawyers, and a decision by its partners is now expected in March, managing partner David McNamara has said.

This is only the second time in decades that Jaeckle has moved, having been a downtown Buffalo tenant for over a century, Kubarek noted. The firm spent decades in the Liberty Building before moving to its current space 26 years ago.

Founded from a merger in the 1950s, but with roots dating back over 100 years, Jaeckle serves Fortune 500 companies, publicly traded and privately owned businesses, financial institutions, governments, universities and individual business owners.

The announcement caps off a property search for new office space that Jaeckle launched in September 2009, when it hired Studley. Its current 10-year lease at Fountain Plaza expires in June 2012.

At the time, Kubarek said the firm was focusing its search on the central business district, citing proximity to the courthouses, the ease of using public transportation and the central location for those who commute by car.

Kubarek said the firm looked at more than a dozen options at first, before narrowing the choice to three, including Avant and remaining in the Bank of America building. He would not disclose the third option, citing a confidentiality agreement.

The Avant Building opened in summer 2009 as an adaptive reuse of the former Dulski building. The "sustainably designed," LEED-certified building includes an eight-floor Embassy Suites hotel, Class A office space on the next four floors and 28 upscale condominiums on the top three floors. So far, 17 condos have been sold.

"Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel's decision to locate at Avant reinforces the importance of having available real estate to meet the needs of today's most progressive companies," said Uniland Vice President Michael Montante.

e-mail: jepstein@buffnews.com