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Conventus lands key biotech tenants
By James Fink, Buffalo Business First
December 10th, 2013
A drug and medical research firm has selected an under-construction building in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus as the site for its local operations.
Albany Molecular Research Inc., a downstate firm that Gov. Andrew Cuomo helped bring to Buffalo, as well as another firm, PerkinElmer of Waltham, Mass. have jointly agreed to lease at least 50,000-square-feet in Ciminelli Real Estate Corp.’s Conventus building that’s currently under construction. As a result of the deal, officially made through Fort Schulyer Management Corp., Ciminelli is revising its Conventus development plans to add a seventh story to the building a move that will see the facility increase its footprint by more than 17 percent..
Conventus was originally planned as a seven-story structure, but was scaled back earlier to this year to six stories. The building is located at the corner of Main and High streets and is the largest private sector-financed development in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
“We were being conservative but optimistic,” said Dennis Penman, Ciminelli executive vice president. “We knew the AMRI deal was out there.”
AMRI had scouted a number of sites within the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus including existing buildings on Main Street and using a portion of a former Trico Products plant on Ellicott Street.
AMRI and, now, PerkinElmer, was considered one of the biggest real estate deals pending in the downtown Buffalo/Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus area. Landing it is considered a major economic development coup for Ciminelli.
By securing the Fort Schulyer/AMRI deal, Conventus’ $100 million development price tag has been raised “north of another $10 million,” Penman said.
Fort Schuyler will actually own the seventh floor under a office condo agreement with Ciminelli. Fort Schuyler is a private, not-for-profit corporation affiliated with the State University at New York Research Foundation.
“We are providing the space to Fort Schuyler,” Penman said. “AMRI is one of the tenants.”
The deal means that Conventus will grow from a six-story, 287,000-square-foot building to one with nearly 340,000-square-feet and seven stories. It also includes a two-level, below grade parking garage.
The building will be anchored by Kaleida Health and UBMD and will be connected by a skywalk above High Street to the new University at Buffalo School of Medicine.
Conventus was envisioned to house medical, clinical and research tenants.
“This is the research component we had hoped for,” Penman said.
With the deal, only the building’s sixth floor remains without a tenant, although talks are underway to land occupants for the space.
Penman said Conventus’ construction is advancing to the point where he anticipates AMRI to be in the building by late next year and UB MD and Kaleida to occupy their respective floors by mid-2015.