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Construction Watch: Compass East Adds Residential Units

McGuire Development Company is adding two apartments to Compass East’s second floor at 425 Michigan Avenue.  The balance of the building, the former Sheehan Memorial Hospital, is multi-tenant commercial space though McGuire has not ruled out adding residential units in the future.

McGuire Development has a long history with the Sheehan property.  It served as the Owner Representative for Sheehan Hospital in 2009/2010 when it received several million dollars in New York State Heal Grant funds.  McGuire helped Sheehan use these funds to construct a primary care clinic, as well as renovate some of the HVAC systems and upgrade the data within the building.  When the Hospital’s Board found itself in financial difficulty in mid-2012, McGuire consulted with them about potential re-uses and re-visioning of the building. 

Ultimately, the Board decided to file a bankruptcy petition, and again approached McGuire Development as its real estate ally to serve as the stalking horse in the Bankruptcy Court’s auction of the building.  McGuire was the only bidder to show up to the auction and took title to the 8.6 acre site in February 2013.  The development firm reached out to neighboring residents to formulate a reuse plan and Carmina Wood Morris was brought on to design the work.

Reuse of the property presented some challenges. 

“Among the benefits of re-developing a hospital building is the fact that it is built like a fortress,” says Danielle Shainbrown, McGuire Development’s asset manager for Compass East.  “The challenges also include the fact that it is built like a fortress.  It was very challenging to reconfigure a hospital structure into a commercial office building.  Hospitals naturally have a significant amount of infrastructure including plumbing, electrical, and HVAC lines everywhere, not to mention a lead-lined radiology department.”

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Time Warner Cable’s East Coast Business Class Services hub anchors the building.  Approximately 190 employees are currently working in the company’s 50,000 sq.ft. of first floor space.  Their employee count is expected to reach 325 by the end of the year.

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A community clinic is also located on the first floor and McGuire Group’s computer and medical training facility will be located in the basement.  There is 50,000 sq.ft. of commercial space and 30,000 sq.ft. of business incubator space remaining in the building.  McGuire Development is marketing the property to tenants in the workforce development, employment opportunity, job training, and education fields under the global STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) umbrella. 

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“We are targeting prospects who fit within these boundaries and have several potential tenants exploring their options,” says Shainbrown.

“We completely rebuilt all of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems to accommodate commercial uses and we installed brand new windows throughout that are energy efficient,” says Shainbrown.  “Likewise, the concrete block construction was expensive and relatively time-consuming to demolish to make way for new state-of-the-art open floor plan office space and residential units.  Secondly, the surrounding community harbored negative feelings with the exterior look of the building, specifically the fact that this 1970’s construction did not include any windows on the first floor.  We appreciated that community feedback and created large windows on the first floor as well as skylights to give Time Warner’s space abundant natural light and the neighbors enjoy a more open feel.  All of the existing windows in the upper floors were replaced, with new windows added, to give a more modern, open atmosphere.”

McGuire Development has added apartments to the Compass East mix. 

The first two apartments, McGuire Development says it is the first phase of residential units, includes a one-bedroom unit with 725 sq.ft. available for $1,015 per month and a two-bedroom unit with 1,025 sq.ft. available for $1,435 per month.  Both have high-level finishes including hardwood floors throughout, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and a washer/dryer within the unit.  The apartments, with views of the downtown skyline, will be ready for occupancy by May 1.

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In February, McGuire Development was chosen as lead developer for the Buffalo IT Innovation and Commercialization Hub.  IBM has committed to bringing 500 new information technology jobs to the facility that will be located downtown at a yet-to-be-selected site.  When asked if Compass East was in the running for the Hub, Shainbrown was unable to answer saying the search effort is subject to a confidentiality agreement with the State.

While this phase of Compass East development is wrapping up this month, the property has room for new construction on the site.

There is a concept for future development of a free standing structure on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Clinton Street, says Shainbrown.  “Going back to our community outreach when we began developing plans for the site, we were educated to understand that in the drive to enhance the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, the former Sheehan Hospital created a void in the corridor because it is set so far back from the street.  It is a goal of ours to fill this void and facilitate the Corridor’s renaissance with a new building to serve the community.”

Compass East’s development costs to date total $10.5 million including interior finishes, façade work, site work, and infrastructure improvements.  McGuire has budgeted a similar amount to build-out tenant spaces as leases are signed.

Get Connected: McGuire Development Company, 716.829.1900

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Written by WCPerspective

WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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