For sale: a historic state office building on a prominent site near Niagara Square.
New York State officials said Tuesday that they are putting the Sen. Walter J. Mahoney State Office Building up for public auction next year, after concluding that it's worth more to someone else than to the state.
The state is working with real estate brokers at CBRE on the process, and a specific date and other details of the auction will be announced at a later date.
But the state is not leaving downtown Buffalo, where it currently leases more than 600,000 square feet of space. About 130 employees who now work in the building at 65 Court St. will be relocated to other facilities.
“The State is committed to maintaining its large footprint in Buffalo," said Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito. "The renaissance of the city of Buffalo and the success of recent development in the downtown core opens the door for a multitude of potential uses for the building.”
Named for Mahoney – who served as a state lawmaker for 30 years before becoming a state Supreme Court judge – the five-story, 69,000-square-foot building sits on 0.61 acres on Niagara Square. It was built in 1930 after the state acquired what had been the city's first public high school – built in 1854 – and then demolished it. Buffalo used the proceeds from the sale of the school to help build City Hall.
The property includes tall ceilings, intricate façade details and an imposing lobby. It was the site of some filming for the movie "Marshall."
However, a committee comprised of city, county and state officials – working with CBRE – concluded that the location and building could be better used by another owner, given the "current competitive and robust Buffalo real estate market," according to the Office of General Services.
"As economic investment in Buffalo nears $7 billion since 2012, the downtown property market is extremely strong," said Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown. "The State's decision to sell this iconic, but underutilized anchor building located on Niagara Square, opens the door to another innovative reuse."
The building currently houses some state Assembly and Senate offices, as well as the New York Departments of State, Labor and Financial Services, the Divisions of Human Rights and Veterans' Affairs, and the Office of the State Comptroller.
“As Buffalo’s transformation continues, the Sen. Walter J. Mahoney State Office Building presents an incredible opportunity for further development in the heart of downtown,” Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement.
This is the second time in recent years that the state has sold a major office building in Buffalo. Benderson Development Co. previously acquired the former Donovan State Office Building, which it transformed into One Canalside. That now hosts a Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, the headquarters of law firm Phillips Lytle LP, a Pizza Plant restaurant and an apartment.
“Just as the former Donovan State Office Building, transformed into One Canalside, has become an integral part of the city’s celebrated Canalside district, a reimagined Mahoney building has similar potential on Niagara Square," Buffalo developer Howard Zemsky, chairman of Empire State Development Corp., said in a statement. "Its auction will add it to the many Western New York buildings that have been revitalized under Buffalo’s resurgence.”