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SmartPill building expansion planned to accommodate biomedical research firm

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus plans to add a 15,000-square-foot second floor to the former SmartPill Corp. headquarters building.

The expansion is part of a $15 million project to convert it into the temporary new headquarters for an Albany-based biomedical research firm, according to the architectural firm overseeing the design.

The current facility at 847 Main St., at Virginia Street, will gain a second floor in the existing high-bay area of the building, increasing its size by 43 percent, to 50,000 square feet, said Timothy M. Rider, principal architect at Trautman Associates, a Buffalo-based architectural and engineering firm.

About two-thirds of the building will be temporarily occupied by Albany Molecular Research Materials Inc., or AMRI, until a permanent new facility for the company can be built. The rest of the space will be taken up by one or more “co-tenants,” including an unnamed global manufacturer and supplier of medical equipment. Neither Rider nor Medical Campus officials have identified the other companies.

The building, which is currently owned by Orchard Park-based Krog Corp., will be acquired by the Medical Campus as part of a trade in which Krog will get the right to build an extended-stay hotel somewhere else on the 120-acre campus.

Redevelopment plans call for an interior gutting and rehabilitation of the entire building, to turn it into high-tech laboratory space, with Krog handling the job of construction manager. “It’s really just a dense research laboratory building,” Rider said. “They’re trying to pack a whole lot into this building.”

On the outside, Rider said, much of it will remain the same, with minimal changes to the facade and the elimination of a few parking spaces in order to make room for site equipment, such as a standby generator, new ground-mounted HVAC equipment, and a bulk storage tank for laboratory gases.

Additionally, both the tenants and the Medical Campus wanted to move the main entrance of the building from the parking lot on Virginia and Washington streets to Main. The other entrances will remain as secondary entry points.

Final costs are still being determined. The proposed plans are slated for review by the Buffalo Planning Board on Oct. 22.

Also up for consideration by city planners is a proposed new restaurant on Franklin Street by businessman Mark D. Croce, a veteran restaurateur in downtown Buffalo.

Croce, through Buffalo Development Co., is proposing to turn a 3,200-square-foot walk-up office building at 284 Franklin St. into a restaurant by adding a cooler, rear stairwell, mezzanine and patio.

Croce already owns Buffalo Chop House, D’Arcy McGee’s Irish Pub with Skybar, Laughlin’s and Buckin’ Buffalo, as well as Statler City.

Additionally, the Planning Board will also consider a plan by D&M Refrigeration to build a new 6,000-square-foot storage addition to its facility at 1340 William St. D&M is a 30-year-old supplier of commercial kitchen or biomedical refrigeration equipment for restaurants, hotels, country clubs, laboratories, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and municipalities. It also sells commercial cooking and cleaning equipment, heating and air-conditioning units and custom-designed stainless-steel counters and tabletops.