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Major renovations planned to open up Fountain Plaza complex

Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. has kicked off a major rehab of the first-floor lobby and other public spaces in part of the Fountain Plaza complex in downtown Buffalo, trying to modernize the building and open it up to more pedestrians.

The Buffalo-based developer did not say how much it would spend on "significant renovations" to 40-50 Fountain Plaza, formerly known as Key Center before KeyBank moved to its new regional headquarters inside the Delaware North Building at 250 Delaware Ave.

But the focus is on the two-story atrium, totaling 19,000 square feet. Workers will remove many of the original marble-encased columns and walls in that part of the building, replacing them with more than 500 linear feet of glass that opens the lobby up to public view.

Crews will also replace the original flooring, take out the fountain inside the lobby and put in two large LED screens for local news and events. Large open spaces will be created for retail kiosks. The plans by Ciminelli and CannonDesign also include a new interactive tenant directory, new anodized aluminum finishes and new LED lighting.

The goal of the work, which is expected to wrap up in the spring, is to open up the building to the outdoor public space to make it more attractive for both tenants and passersby.

Built in 1989, the Class A office complex features two towers totaling 435,384 square feet, overlooking the reflecting pool and fountain that have become a familiar part of downtown Buffalo, particularly during winter ice skating. The building was owned by Erwin Zafir's New York City-based KeySuccess LLC until Ciminelli Real Estate President and CEO Paul Ciminelli bought a majority stake earlier this year.

Ciminelli, which has long managed and leased the building for Zafir, has moved its headquarters from its longtime home in Amherst to the fourth and fifth floors of the North Tower. Other major tenants include law firms Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman, Nixon Peabody and Harter Secrest & Emery, as well as marketing firm Mower, office-suite firm Regus and brokerage Merrill Lynch.

The project marks the next phase of upgrades to the Fountain Plaza complex. Ciminelli earlier this year replaced the green lights in the building apexes with LED lights that can display multiple colors and transitions on holidays and city events.

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