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Crisis Services moves to Black Rock

Crisis Services, the nonprofit operator of the region's 24-hour emergency suicide-prevention hotline, has moved its offices to the Black Rock neighborhood, while selling its old building on Main Street to its new landlord.

The agency, as of last month, is now ensconced in its new offices at 100 River Rock Drive, in a 51,000-square-foot building owned by Acquest Holdings.

Located on four acres, the light manufacturing and flex office building also houses Fowler's Chocolates, Campione Safety, Veneer Systems, Black WNY Magazine, Aries Transportation, Neometric Systems, Lifco Hydraulics and United Graphics.

The new space includes a much larger break room and wellness rooms, giving first responders a chance to "unwind," the agency noted. Crisis Services will also be able to host training, seminars and community meetings.

Meanwhile, just last week, the agency's Crisis Services Foundation Inc. sold its former building at 2969 Main to Acquest, which paid $450,000 for the 7,894-square-foot building. Located on 1.36 acres, the air-conditioned property included a paved parking lot for 40 cars, and is located across the street from a Metro Rail station at Main and Hertel.

“We started discussions about moving our operations well over seven years ago,” said agency CEO Jessica C. Pirro. “In order to make this happen we needed to sell our current facility and find the perfect location to develop our next home. After a lot of effort by our board of directors and leadership team, we were able to achieve both and are thrilled to be moving into our new home.”

Crisis Services had been at its old location since 1988, when the facility's size was more than enough for the 40 staff members and its programming needs. But the agency has since grown significantly with more services, while its employee base has more than doubled, including a 20 percent increase just in the past three years.

It now employs 94, with another 30 volunteers, which meant that its old office was cramped, with multiple staff members sharing offices, desks and computers, while some programs were constrained by the space. “When we converted two closets to make an office space for one of our managers, it was the last straw highlighting that we have outlived our time at Main Street,” Pirro said.

Agency officials committed to the move in 2015, when Crisis Services first put the Main Street building up for sale. But while demand was high, the move posed challenges. First, Crisis Services needed a new landlord to be confident enough in the sale to sign a lease without any contingency, said Stephen Hunt, the broker at Hunt Commercial Real Estate who handled the transaction. Additionally, he said, the nonprofit agency needed a large enough parking lot for its staff but also needed to stay in the city based on its clientele and services.

Hunt said "there was non-stop interest from prospective buyers," leading to multiple offers "almost immediately" and "more than six contracts submitted." But coordinating the sale and a new lease "was likely to be difficult," given the restrictions, so the options for a new location that would satisfy Crisis Services' requirements were "very narrow," Hunt added. That led to Acquest as both buyer and new landlord.

Even then, Pirro noted, the agency needed assurances that it could make the move efficient and seamless, so that its 24-hour hotline service would not be interrupted.

"We had priorities we needed for our operations, and after several places we checked out, 100 River Rock Drive met many of our immediate priorities and then some," Pirro said. "We appreciated the relationship with Acquest, who was able to provide us with our new home while also purchasing our old location. This overall partnership achieved many goals for us and them."

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