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Cheektowaga debt collector buys Amherst office building from Uniland

A Cheektowaga-based debt-collections firm, whose principals include a longtime former banking executive, has acquired a mostly vacant office building in the Audubon Office Park in Amherst from Uniland Development Co.

Daniel Mendez and other owners of Diverse Funding Associates paid $2.55 million last week to purchase the 25,332-square-foot building at 2351 North Forest Road from the Amherst-based developer. The sale also includes a wooded parcel next door at 2365 North Forest, with an old unused house on it.

The single-story commercial building has only one tenant, the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, but has nearly 16,000 square feet of vacant and contiguous space available, according to Uniland's website. Constructed in 1989, the light red-brick building features a rounded semi-circular entry lobby with two wings, plus onsite parking, outdoor seating areas and green space.

Uniland spokeswoman Jill Pawlik described the sale as part of "the normal course of business," and said the firm doesn't have "any other buildings for sale in the park."

"An opportunity presented itself to sell the building, so we were able to do that," she said.

A representative of Diverse Funding confirmed the purchase and plans to relocate the firm, but Mendez and other executives could not be reached for comment.

Founded in early 2004 and located on Sonwil Drive, Diverse Funding is a debt-buying and collections firm, whose partners have more than 75 years of combined industry experience. It works directly with national and regional banks, consumer finance companies, auto lenders, retail vendors, and hospitals, among other clients.

The firm seeks to distinguish itself from rogue debt collectors that have been targeted by regulatory crackdowns, saying on its website that it operates "in a compliant manner" and has "embraced the new requirements of today's market with regard to compliance and professionalism."

Besides Mendez, who is a managing partner, the firm also counts Lawrence Schiavi among its executives. Schiavi is a longtime financial services industry veteran, having held senior executive positions at HSBC Mortgage Corp. and MortgageIt Inc. for more than 26 years before running the mortgage division of Greater Buffalo Savings Bank from 2006 to 2007.

He started a debt financing firm in 2005 and then joined Diverse Funding in December 2008. He is also one of the founding members of Elevation Capital, an accredited investor fund.

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