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M&T seeks 250,000 square feet of new office space

Buffalo's biggest bank is planning a major expansion of its office space in Western New York so it can consolidate its technology and support operations that are expected to grow over the next few years.

M&T Bank Corp. issued a request for proposals from the region's landlords and developers for about 150,000 square feet of office space that would be available by June 2019, with the ability to expand by another 100,000 square feet in the same building or campus over the next two to three years.

That's a total of 250,000 square feet of office space, or at little less than one-third the size of One Seneca Tower. And it wants 1,000 "on-site or nearby" secured parking spaces, with the ability to gain another 500 parking spaces to handle its growth, according to the request-for-proposals obtained by The Buffalo News, which the bank issued to developers on Wednesday.

M&T's technology employees are spread out in six locations in Buffalo, Amherst and Cheektowaga, but officials have long talked about consolidating those functions to a single large location so the bank can be more efficient. At the same time, officials want to reduce their dependency on outside contractors by bringing more work in-house, which necessitates more hiring.

M&T officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

According to the document, the project would involve both "planned relocations and expansion in the Western New York market."

But the documents did not indicate how many jobs could be created by the project or how much of the space it now occupies in the Buffalo Niagara region would become empty because of the move.

The bank also plans to seek tax breaks to help finance the project.

The bank did not specify any geographic area, aside from "the Greater Buffalo area." But in its solicitation, the bank said it wanted "contiguous large floor plates," which would seemingly exclude the now-vacant One Seneca Tower, and "access to nearby mass transit lines and metro stations."

The bank also wants the new facility to include, or be close to amenities such as retail and food service, fitness facilities, meeting spaces, bicycle storage both inside and outside, and outside space for "employee enjoyment, gathering and events."

The bank did not say how many employees would occupy the space. But it said the space could be used for general office and administrative uses," including wealth management, commercial, business, personal and retail banking, as well as related financial services from affiliated companies. It's also demanding exclusive rights to operate an ATM in the building lobby, and exclusive naming rights and signage, including rooftop opportunities.

"Identification is important to the tenant," the bank wrote.

The building would operate from at least 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, the document specified.

The bank would sign a 10-year lease, at 90 percent of market rates with incentives, with two five-year options to extend the term further.

And the bank expects landlords and developers to come up with attractive proposals.

"In recognition of M&T Bank’s superior credit, M&T anticipates a favorable rent proposal," the bank wrote. M&T also wants an "aggressive" allowance to cover tenant improvements or build-out costs.

Proposals are due by Jan. 11, indicating the bank is on a fast-track to get the project done. If the developer or building owner that is selected is late in getting the facility ready, "structured liquidated damages" would be applied.

The request for proposals marks one of the biggest real estate moves by the bank, which is already a powerful force in Western New York.

M&T, one of the area's 10 largest employers, has over 7,000 workers in the eight-county region, including 2,500 in downtown Buffalo. The bank occupies over 1.3 million square feet of space, including 1 million square feet in multiple downtown buildings – or about 22 percent of the city's Class A office space – with additional space in scattered locations around the city and suburbs.

The company is headquartered at its One M&T Plaza at Main & Church streets, where it occupies virtually all of the 300,000 square feet of space in the entire 21-story tower. But it also owns the 395,000-square-foot M&T Center at Fountain Plaza, as well as significant space at the Larkin Center of Commerce, 285 Delaware Ave., AM&A Warehouse Lofts and Lafayette Court Building. And it has space in the Audubon Business Park, Airborne Business Park, Appletree Business Park and a former HSBC Bank USA data center on Park Club Lane in Amherst. In all, M&T has over a dozen facilities.

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