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Verizon plans $7 million restoration of downtown Buffalo office building facade

Verizon Communications is dialing up its investment in downtown Buffalo, planning a nearly $7 million exterior restoration and repair to its primary office building at the corner of Church and Franklin streets.

The New York City-based telecommunications giant wants to undertake a thorough renovation of the facades of the complex, which includes a 16-story tower constructed in 1913 and a connected eight-story wing that was added in 1930.

The goal is to better seal the neo-Gothic-style tower and its Art Deco wing, so they don't leak energy, while also completing much needed repairs, said architect Anthony Gorski, a partner at Kideney Architects.

As part of the $6.75 million project, crews would replace more than 969 windows, restore the copper parapet, put on new roofs, and repair the glazed terra cotta, brick, limestone and other masonry that line its structural steel frame and curtain wall. The project will be considered by the Buffalo Preservation Board on Thursday.

"They’re investing some money in the envelope of a very old and beautiful building in the city," Gorski said. "It's an old building, and it needs some work on it."

The windows are particularly important, since they have not been touched since the early to mid-1980s, the architect said. Thirty percent of them are still original openings with the original steel frame wire glass window. As a result, they're not very energy-efficient, and the building loses heat.

"It’s going to be a big job. There's a lot of windows there," Gorski said. "You're losing a lot of money going through the windows."

The glazed terra cotta and brick are mostly original to the century-old building, and are littered with hairline cracks and other defects that must be repaired. Parts of the brick have also deteriorated from water seeping in, freezing and thawing, which causes the surface to flake or fall apart. Other features of both materials are so far gone that they must be removed, replicated and replaced. There's also areas of corrosion behind the brick.

Additionally, the terra cotta has to be cleaned with mild detergent and a bristle brush, while the parapets must be coated with a resin sealant to prevent further problems.

"They’re just that old. Things happen, water gets in," Gorski said. "They’re trying to improve the whole envelope so they won’t have to touch it for another 30 years."

If approved, officials hope to start work in the spring, with completion by fall 2021, Gorski said. The contractor has not yet been hired.

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