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One Canalside nearing completion for Phillips Lytle


The conversion of the former Donovan State Office Building into the new headquarters for law firm Phillips Lytle LP is on schedule and on budget, with the firm planning a mid-November move-in over a single long weekend. (Photo at right is a view from inside the renovated building.)

That’s the word from Managing Partner David McNamara, as he took a reporter through the construction site, which he called “a beehive of activity” with workers from at least four different companies.

The building is in the Canalside district, a block north of the First Niagara Center on Washington Street in downtown Buffalo.  The reuse of the building is part of the larger development of the Canalside area. 

Phillips Lytle will occupy the top four floors of the eight-story building, with a Courtyard by Marriott hotel planned by developer Benderson Development Co. for the bottom floors.

The law firm’s attorneys and staff are planning to move over from the One HSBC Center tower starting at 4 p.m. on Nov. 14 and finishing up in time to open for business on Monday, Nov. 18. The hotel is slated to open in late April.

Currently, the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors are “pretty much done,” McNamara said, with all but the furniture essentially in place – and that’s either been delivered or is on its way.

Drywall is up, ceilings and light fixtures are up, and even much of the flooring is done, mostly carpeting with some stone and marble. The electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning systems are complete, and the elevators are ready, after one was repositioned to serve as a freight elevator. “It’s the cosmetic finishes at this point,” McNamara said.

The eighth floor, which includes the main reception area, 12 conference rooms and leadership offices, is a bit further behind, as the flooring is not done yet, nor are some of the other features, such as the audio-visual equipment for the largest conference room in a corner of the floor and the “skywalls” that can come down to break the room into thirds. Workers are also preparing to lay down 125 stone pavers on the outdoor patio on the 8th floor.

“The hard work is done. The rest they can make quick work of,” McNamara said.

“It’s progressed along really well,” McNamara said. “We’ve encountered the issues you would expect to encounter in a project of this magnitutde, but we’ve worked through them and everything is on track.”

On the first floor, a “virtual” reception desk is being created for the firm, with a video screen directly linked to the actual reception on the eighth floor. The wall will also feature a mural of the Canalside area from the early 20th centurey, produced by Hadley Exhibits.

Outside, work continues on the two-level parking deck, which will have 75 spaces on the lower level for Phillips Lytle and 75 on the second level for the hotel.

Pedestrian access, through two building entrances, will be from both Washington Street and the metro rail line on Main Street, with steps leading to both streets.

-- Jonathan D. Epstein

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