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.
Benderson 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.