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Time Warner Cable being wooed to put call center at Sheehan Hospital site

Time Warner Cable is considering locating a new regional call center at the former Sheehan Memorial Hospital building east of downtown Buffalo, bringing as many as 250 to 300 jobs, according to politicians and other sources familiar with the situation.

The communications giant has been exploring possible sites along the East Coast for a new call center for its Time Warner Business Class service. The company would create about 175 new positions in whatever market it chooses, while consolidating about 100 other jobs that already exist in that market.

The company is looking at Compass East, the former Sheehan property on Michigan Avenue acquired by McGuire Development Co. for $2 million last year.

No decision has been made, nor has any agreement been signed, but the New York City-based company is being lobbied intensely by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer and State Sen. Tim Kennedy, among others. In a joint news release Thursday, Schumer and Kennedy called on the company to choose Compass East, citing the low cost of real estate, the “exceptional” Buffalo workforce and the high quality of life for employees.

“As Time Warner Cable searches for a new call center site on the East Coast, I’m urging them to put Buffalo on speed dial,” said Schumer, who met with Time Warner CEO Glenn Britt and spoke by phone with Chief Operating Officer Rob Marcus.

“Time Warner will benefit from Buffalo’s exceptional workforce and low cost of business ... I know that this new Time Warner facility could be a wonderful addition to the Michigan (Avenue) neighborhood and help breathe new life into this now-dormant building.”

McGuire Development President James F. Dentinger thanked the two politicians for their support and cited the efforts of Cuomo, Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Buffalo Common Council Member Darius Pridgen, the Empire State Development Corp. and Erie County.

“McGuire Development Company LLC is working around the clock to develop Compass East as a center of excellence for job creation on Buffalo’s East Side,” he said in a statement. “We want Time Warner Cable to know that it will find a wonderful home in this development, and we look forward to discussions about this possibility with TWC leadership.”

Time Warner has a call center in Cheektowaga at the AppleTree Business Park that deals with residential customer service. The company has 14.6 million cable, high-speed data and residential telephone customers in 29 states, including 13.5 million basic cable subscribers.

The proposed new facility would be selling to or servicing companies of all sizes that get data, video and voice services through fiber-optic communications, a major growth avenue for the company.

“Providing outstanding commercial-grade service has helped fuel tremendous growth at Time Warner Cable Business Class,” said company spokeswoman Joli Plucknette-Farmen. “We share Senator Schumer and State Senator Kennedy’s appreciation for Buffalo’s many positive business attributes.”

There was no indication of how much space Time Warner would occupy in the 270,000-square-foot building if it does come to the eight-acre property, but a source familiar with the discussions said it would be a “pretty substantial part of the building.”

Other tenants at Compass East currently include University Pediatric Dentistry and a training facility for nursing home firm the McGuire Group, which owns McGuire Development, a commercial real estate developer and brokerage firm. The Langston Hughes Institute also occupies temporary space there. McGuire also is “getting close” with two or three other “very interesting tenants,” Dentinger said.