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Kolkmeyer completes purchase of 5 buildings

Paul J. Kolkmeyer, a developer and former CEO of First Niagara Financial Group, has completed his purchase of five downtown buildings from longtime landlord David L. Sweet.

The sale of three of those properties closed in October. The final two – the Rand and Main Court buildings – closed Tuesday for a total of $8.4 million, according to records from the Erie County Clerk’s Office.

Kolkmeyer, under his MSBP 14-438 LLC, bought the Rand building at 14 Lafayette Square and the Main Court building at 43 Main St. from Sweet’s Main Seneca Corp. The Lafayette Square property sold for $3.89 million, the Main Street property sold for $4.5 million.

The sale makes Kolkmeyer a major downtown property owner and completes the divestiture of Sweet’s Buffalo real estate portfolio.

In October, Sweet sold Kolkmeyer three commercial properties – the Main Seneca, Stanton and Roblin buildings – for a combined total of $3.2 million. The Main Seneca building at 237 Main St. and the Roblin building at 241 Main St. went for $2.56 million. The Stanton building at 251 Main St. sold for $646,569.

The art-deco style Rand building, built in 1929, has features similar to the Empire State Building. At one time, the 29-story building was the tallest in Buffalo. It was built on the site of the former Olympic Theater, which hosted vaudeville acts before it was demolished in the mid-1920s. It is about 80 percent occupied.

The 13-story, steel and glass Main Court building was constructed in 1963. It originally served as the headquarters of Western New York Savings Bank. Today it is a commercial office building with an occupancy rate just under 80 percent.

Sweet, who is 85, made the sale in order to retire from the real estate business. His three daughters declined to continue the business as active landlords, leaving Sweet without a successor. He has owned the properties for as long as 40 years. Today, they are assessed at $12 million.

Kolkmeyer couldn’t be reached to comment on his plans for the properties, but the developer’s website says the five-story, cast-iron facade Stanton building is currently being converted to downtown apartment space.

Formerly an accountant, Kolkmeyer was CEO of First Niagara Financial Group until 2006. He became a developer in 2007, entering the real estate business with his Amherst-based Priam Enterprises LLC. It buys, manages and develops residential apartment buildings and student housing, including the AC Lofts at 136 North Division St., Morris Manor at 35 East Morris Ave., Mercer Commons at 2825 Main St., and Carriage House Square at 33 West Tupper St.