Just One Proposal For Donovan Building Makeover

Benderson Development was the only firm that responded to an Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) request for proposals (RFP) to redevelop the Donovan Building at the foot of Main Street.  Ellicott Development is said to have expressed interest in the site but did not submit a proposal.  Ciminelli Development was also interested but objected to the submittal requirements and claimed the RFP afforded “unique advantage and favor to one or more entities with whom the ECHDC has had extensive private negotiations in the past few years- namely Benderson Development.” One of the more onerous requirements was that commercial proposals had to demonstrate that 25 percent of the building’s space was pre-leased. 

The eight-story former Donovan State Office building contains approximately 160,000 square feet of developable space.  The site, which borders Main Street, Washington Street, Scott Street and the on-ramp to the I-190, is approximately 2.3 acres.

plinterior.pngBenderson is expected to have teamed with Clark Construction Group based in Maryland on the project.  Clark is the largest privately-held construction firm in the U.S. and has completed over 100 million sq.ft. of interior building construction since 1969 with substantial experience working with law firms.

Law firm Phillips Lytle is interested in anchoring the Benderson project after its lease expires at HSBC Center.  It would occupy the top four floors of the Donovan Building.

“Our Firm’s Partners recently voted in favor of entering into a lease with Benderson Development to relocate our Buffalo offices to the Donovan Building site in the Canalside area of downtown Buffalo when our current lease expires at the end of 2013,” said David J. McNamara, Phillips Lytle LLP Managing Partner. “The lease is contingent on Benderson being awarded development rights in the RFP process that is being conducted by the current owner of the Donovan Building, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation.  We are thrilled by the prospect of continuing our 176-year presence on lower Main Street and contributing to the next step in the redevelopment of the Canalside district.”

Development proposals were required to include at submission a $250,000 deposit.  Once selected, expected in mid-July, Benderson must increase the deposit to $1,000,000.  Barring lawsuits, construction on the Donovan re-do must begin by December 15, 2011 or the deposit is forfeited.  Work must be complete by January 1, 2014.

About the author  ⁄ WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

29 comments
sonyactivision
sonyactivision

Or an organic parking lot! With dolphin-powered light fixtures!

Lego1981
Lego1981

Yes, let's knock it down and build a wooden shack and play 'let's name that shack'.

KangDangaLang
KangDangaLang

Lol, NO YOU'RE A JOKE!!!! Whats next, my dad can beat up your dad?

nyc
nyc

You're clearly the joke.

Who Cares Anymore
Who Cares Anymore

Let's sue and stop this from happening.

As a community we can come up with a better hq for them, maybe purchase a barn out in Akron move it to the city, have an urban farm to the curb in the back, organic retail storefront, mixed use, have it be a community center at night, have PL pay for it but we dictate its use and the how and where and the naming rights. I think Reuse Buffalo should build it paying above prevailing wages.

johnnywalker
johnnywalker

The HQ for Benderson has very few people. Bendersons general operations are still located in Buffalo. There are about 400 employees in several office buidings on Delware Ave between Allen and North

LouisTully
LouisTully

Benderson is a joke. Let's favor the developer with a fantastic suburban portfolio and the one who is no longer HQd in the area. When are we going to start going after Bass Pro again?

KangDangaLang
KangDangaLang

Nope its not the reason what so ever. The reason why we have nothing is directly because of people sticking their noses where they do not belong.....and Jordan Levy. Everyone thinks they know whats best, when in actuality they have no idea. Put the parking ramp there, no put it there, no dont build it at all. Build Bass Pro, dont build Bass Pro, not with my tax dollars etc etc etc. On top of that you have lawsuit after lawsuit (Peace Bridge, Casino, IBM, Elmwood Hotel etc etc etc). This is the way that business is done, friends look out for friends. If you were wealthy you would do the exact same thing. You hire/work with people you trust, and who do you trust more than friends and family? This is the way things work, it has worked this way forever and will continue to work this way until the end of time.

"We have FAR AND AWAY a better Canalside plan now than we did 5 years ago when bass pro was proposed for the central wharf"

That was a joke correct?

johnnywalker
johnnywalker

There was a 3 month leadoff for a proposal, not a detailed development plan, a proposal. Was Croce expecting to get an additional subsidy so he could bid on it? He got 1 million for the curtis building. Go take a look. Its a mess. He asked for 12million from the state to build a parking ramp with offices on the top. And what is he getting for the statler? 6million in public subsidy? And you think ECHDC is somehow self serving? Just a thought.

townline
townline

Don't you think, at all, that this type of project management is exactly why Canalside has been clouded in misdirection and lawsuits for over a decade?! I know you like to blame obstructionists, but you you have an obviously corrupt and favor driven process, that is not intended to create the best public product, it deserves to be derailed.

We have FAR AND AWAY a better Canalside plan now than we did 5 years ago when bass pro was proposed for the central wharf. And that was because people spoke up and put an end to the nonsense. However, now Jordan Levy's board has clearly not learned a thing and continues to produce a self-serving project. It is ridiculous and it is completely the fault of ECHDC.

manski
manski

I agree, let's move on. Let's be positive and consider this particular project to be a relatively small piece of the overall long term plan. But hopefully someone will be keeping a close eye on the process for future development projects. For this one though, even if there's no actual conflict of interest or insider deal there certainly is the appearance of one.

By the way, in the first related story below from March of last year "While Ciminelli is said to be the front-runner to obtain developement rights for the building, Uniland Development sees an opportunity as well." I wonder what happened there?

KangDangaLang
KangDangaLang

Just get it done already! Was it a rigged competition....sure, was anyone ever going to get the contract...probably not, does the rendering look better than what is there now......yup. Get it done so we have something. Stop letting everyone and their mother decide what is best for Canalside, because you know what happens when everone is able to put in their two cents........http://www.buffalorising.com/2011/06/name-that-food-shack.html.

derby98
derby98

Not sure, current owner did float idea of 10 story building on the west side plaza in hopes of keeping HSBC. It looks as though owner has not even completed the cleaning of exterior stone work. I guess that would make sense if your largest tenants were all pulling out.

Lego1981
Lego1981

Any word on Nordstrom moving here? After Bass Pro pulled out, the Erie Canal Harbor Group told us in the news that Nordstrom was showing interest. Did they lose interest? Anyone know?

jjcefa
jjcefa

Nice idea, werent they planning changes, upgrades anyway

jjcefa
jjcefa

Lets just wrap it up as opportunity missed for other developers and allow Phyllips Lytle and Benderson to make the move and transition...The renderings look great...What is there now doesnt look great...

phrank
phrank

Yes, we wouldn't want anything that resembles coming from that depressed, struggling region around Washington, DC...

I'm sure there's more office space in Crystal City (which is just across the river from DC in VA) than all of western NY.

And they are extending the Metro system through to the Dulles area as we speak (already hits Crystal City). Perhaps we should be trying to emulate greater DC a little MORE by expanding our Metro system.

townline
townline

This RFP was specifically designed for only ECHDC's favored developer and representative law firm to even have the ability to respond.

Apparently we're not out of the woods at ECHDC yet in regards to disingenuous planning and development processes.

jumpingbuffalo
jumpingbuffalo

Well, since nobody had another rendering offered, I say do it. This is a reuse of an existing building so it's not like it was some building meant for the suburbs. As for the design, this is much more appropriate than the fake historic designs that the ECHDC keeps pushing for everything down there.

flyguy
flyguy

I hope this happens. I like the proposal. Its sad to hear theres such small interest that only one proposal comes forward. I guess its just a reflection that things still arent coming up roses for downtown and the Buffalo area when it comes to demand and developers eager to take advantage of lakefront proximity, etc. Then again I would imagine the lending market is still extremely tight and developers are held back from getting creative and starting up sizable projects. I wonder if this is a Buffalo area issue or a larger lending issue everywhere. Unfortunately I wonder if Buffalo is a hard pitch to lenders with decreasing population, persistent perception issues, and low incomes.

derby98
derby98

HSBC building should be re-skinned in glass and new mechanical updates added and filled with office, a hotel, condos and apartments. This combination will surely guarantee its success not to mention improve the city skyline view.

rb09
rb09

Ciminelli Development complaining about unique advantages and favors to one or more entities....

Ciminelli has never been involved in a project that afforded them advantages and favors. LOL!

derby98
derby98

Let Benderson build it, the rendering looks great, then officials can look into irregularities in the process at a later date. People want to see 3-dimensional progress on the harbor not more promises, pictures or hot dog stands.The food stand rendering looks like crap, one of the first significant buildings to be built and its a shack, unbelievable.

Personally, I would be interested to see what the payroll and administrative expenses are for ECHDC is.

Jesse
Jesse

Do whatever you like with the thing, anything (even a parking lot) is better than the mess that's there now. But let's not pretend that these rendering look like something new. They'd fit in perfectly well in Crystal City or out the Dulles corridor. BORING.

P2bbuffalonian
P2bbuffalonian

I think the design looks great! - reminds me a bit of Larkin. I mean to be honest, I'm really sick of looking at the scattered boarded up windows. Every time a friend visits, I try to turn their head away from the Donovan as we're on the 190. I'm not sure if the waterfront needs the Donovan to be converted into a hotel right now. I feel an office like PL would create some demand for some services down there - more so than a hotel, but I'm sure opinions will fly on that matter.

Regardless, Awesome.

Lego1981
Lego1981

If space is available at HSBC Center, why not consider condos or hotel rooms???? Those views are to die for!

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