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M&T puts construction of Seneca One tower tech hub on hold

M&T Bank says it is pausing construction of its "tech hub" at Seneca One tower, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We remain committed to our vision for Seneca One," said Julia Berchou, an M&T spokeswoman. "Construction will resume as soon as it is deemed safe for workers to return to the job site. We will complete the project as quickly as possible and look forward to occupying the space later this year."

The project is expected to become a major employer in downtown, with more than 1,500 workers, and be a major tenant in the efforts to bring new tenants to the once-vacant Seneca One tower.

M&T's initial timeline for the tech hub – before the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the local economy – called for the bank to locate at least 1,000 of its employees in the building by mid-2020, and to have at least 1,500 employees working there within three years. Given the pause in construction, it's not clear when the first workers will move into the revitalized office space.

M&T has described the tech hub as an "innovation factory" for developing deploying technology, with an open floor plan and wide-ranging views of the city.

The bank hopes other tech-minded businesses and organizations will move into the tower, to create a collaborative environment that is appealing to workers. 43North, the business plan competition, is already a tenant, with space for its newest class of prize-winning startups.

M&T will occupy floors 13 through 23 of the 38-story downtown landmark, plus two floors in the building’s pedestal. The tech project is led by construction manager LeChase Construction.

The Buffalo News reported this week that a variety of construction projects have been put on hold due to the pandemic.

M&T's tech hub is a vital piece of a larger downtown project: the $120 million revitalization of the Seneca One complex by its owner, developer Douglas Jemal.

The influx of M&T employees is expected to bring additional life to the downtown core, and should provide a boost to everything from spending on downtown businesses to renting living spaces. The complex itself will contain 115 market-rate apartments.

Jemal recently said he is working to land a California-based technology company that would expand to Buffalo and fill up the top dozen floors of the tower. The unidentified company could create more than 300 jobs if it chooses to expand here. Jemal also has said he is working to attract a craft brewery to the complex.

The entire complex is continuing its transformation from the onetime home of offices for HSBC Bank USA and the Phillips Lytle law firm.

Two new black-clad brick storefront buildings are largely completed on the plaza level, along with two new clubhouse buildings. The apartments are essentially ready to be rented, but Jemal has said he prefers to wait to do that until construction activity on the plaza subsides.

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