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First Niagara Financial Group Inc. is expected to announce today that for $1, it has given the University at Buffalo a parcel of land on Main Street for construction of a new medical school.

The 0.85-acre parcel at 973 Main, where a First Niagara retail bank branch is currently located, is the last of three properties UB is acquiring downtown for the project. Officials appraised the land at about $2 million.

“The magnitude of First Niagara’s generosity far surpasses the physical boundaries of the land that is changing hands,” UB President Satish K. Tripathi said in a statement.

Tripathi said the acquisition will allow UB to move ahead with the new School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. A design for the 520,000-square-foot building at the southeast corner of Main and High streets is being prepared by the architectural firm HOK, and a groundbreaking for the new building is scheduled for September with construction to be completed in 2016, officials said.

First Niagara will turn over the site Oct. 1, but plans to open a permanent branch elsewhere on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. A temporary branch will be located at 1031 Main St. until the permanent branch building opens, officials reported.

“When we were made aware of how important the land was to the university, we jumped at the chance to help,” said Gary Crosby, First Niagara’s interim president and chief executive officer.

The $375 million new medical school is being funded by a variety of sources, including university and SUNY resources, a university fundraising campaign and a $35 million challenge grant provided through the SUNY 2020 bill signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.



email: hdavis@buffnews.com