ADVERTISEMENT

One of the nation’s largest public accounting firms is moving its Buffalo office from Buffalo’s tallest building to the Larkin at Exchange Building later this month.

PricewaterhouseCoopers is moving from 12,500 square feet of space on the 36th floor of One Seneca Tower, formerly One HSBC Center, to more than 9,000 square feet on the 10th and top floor of the Larkin Building at 726 Exchange St. The firm, which takes occupancy Aug. 25, about a month later than originally expected, signed a 10-year lease.

The move was prompted by the expiration of the firm’s lease in the tower and the lack of a renewal or extension offer, said Keith Stolzenburg, managing partner of the Buffalo office.

He said the new space has “state-of-the-art” video conference capabilities, useful because of the way the firm’s professionals now work. Rather than operating distinctly from other offices, he said, the Buffalo location is “essentially combined” with the one in Rochester, with a total of 185 people “who float between the cities.”

On any given day, less than half of the workforce is in the office, as they’re working from a client office, a hotel, their home or somewhere else. The new space is set up to accommodate 70 people.

“We’re all about flexibility right now,” Stolzenburg said. “The place we’re moving into is much more multi-functional. It’s much more efficient for us.”

PwC officials conducted a search of options in downtown Buffalo, starting with 12 locations that were then narrowed to six, and then to three, before they selected Larkin. “We looked at a ton of places in the downtown corridor,” Stolzenburg said, but the presence of amenities such as a cafeteria, Tim Hortons, a fitness center, a day care and a bank branch at the Larkin Building, coupled with ample and even free parking, sealed the deal.

Howard Zemsky, managing partner of the Larkin Development Group, said the building owners were “proud” to have landed PwC.

PwC’s departure is the latest in a line of longtime tenants who have left the mostly vacant tower, starting with the three biggest and dominant – HSBC Bank USA, law firm Phillips Lytle LLC and the Canadian consulate. HSBC consolidated to the Atrium a block away and its sprawling facility in Depew, while the law firm moved its headquarters to new space at One Canalside, and the consulate closed.

As a result, the 38-story structure is now about 95 percent vacant, and is facing foreclosure by the loan servicers for the investors holding the mortgage. Several smaller office tenants have renewed leases or moved into the building to bolster its occupancy, but only under one-year leases because of uncertainty about the future.

“We’re sorry that they are leaving, but wish them well with their future endeavors,” said Richard J. Schechter, the court-appointed receiver responsible for managing the tower as it winds through foreclosure.

email: jepstein@buffnews.com