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Conventus building filling up on Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

Ciminelli Real Estate Corp.’s anticipated lease with Kinex Pharmaceuticals would cap the effort to fill the $110 million Conventus, one of the largest privately funded construction initiatives on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in recent years.

Ciminelli, the developer behind the project, is expecting Buffalo-based Kinex to occupy the sixth floor of the seven-story complex at 1001 Main St., although details are still uncertain.

It would be the second Buffalo Billion-funded tenant to take up residency in the building, after Albany Molecular Research Inc., which moved into the seventh floor in April. Kinex is a client of AMRI, and the two are expected to work closely together, along with other occupants of the facility.

Conventus was designed as a link between the Medical Campus’ clinical, research and academic entities, with direct building connections to UB’s new School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and to the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital, both now under construction. In fact, the name “Conventus” refers to the “coming together” of doctors, educators, and researchers, Ciminelli officials say.

“The goal was to have a building that was multipurpose in terms of bringing together all the ideas of the medical campus,” Ciminelli Executive Vice President Dennis Penman said during a tour of the building Wednesday. “We were able to achieve the goal.”

The complex – with its glass-curtain facade, LED lights and a prominent entrance on High Street – was built on land that Frank L. Ciminelli had purchased in 1992 at 50 High. The firm imploded the previous building on the site in May 2007.

The first floor will contain the main lobby, a First Niagara Bank branch, a Starbucks Coffee outlet, and an upscale food court with outdoor patio on Goodrich Street, to attract people from the Allentown and Elmwood communities as well as the Medical Campus. “This is to attract the energy of Main Street into the Medical Campus,” Penman said.

The second and third floors will be taken up by Kaleida Health, including for the administrative, patient intake and discharge functions for the ambulatory surgery center for Children’s. The actual surgery suites will be on the 200-foot-long, two-story bridge between Conventus and the hospital.

UBMD and UB’s academic offices will occupy the fourth and fifth floors, respectively. The top two floors are for the three biomedical firms.

Construction began in April 2013, but the overall project fell behind schedule, despite losing only four days to high winds and bad weather. The building’s “core and shell” are now officially completed, with AMRI occupying the seventh floor since April. The main lobby is also done, and a two-level underground parking ramp with 300 spaces is operational.

The rest of the building remains empty and unfinished on the inside, with bare cement floors, metal plate ceilings, exposed wires and pipes, and steel beams and columns caked with spray-foam insulation. That includes the sixth floor that Kinex would occupy. Each floor is over an acre in size.

UB and Kaleida, whose giant facilities are not expected to be completed until 2017, are likely to start work on fitting out their respective floors in the coming weeks, said Denise Juron-Borgese, director of development and planning for Ciminelli. But they’re not anticipated to move in until a year later, in the fall of 2016.

Meanwhile, the bank branch lease has been finalized, and Ciminelli officials are working on leases with a couple of potential food providers for the lobby level, but those retail operations won’t open until summer 2016, Penman said.

There’s also a 12,500-square-foot “green” roof, with a layer of plant pans filled with an evergreen mix and ornamental chives no taller than 6 inches, designed to thrive in Buffalo weather. “It’s relatively maintenance-free,” Juron-Borgese said. “It’s no different than your own garden.”