Naming Rights Tower

What the imminent emptying of the tower-soon-to-be-formerly-known-as-HSBC-Tower underscores is that Bashar Issa wasn’t just a charlatan, but a transparently obvious one. Here is our archive of what we’ve written about Issa over the years. 

Now that HSBC, Phillips Lytle, and the Canadian consulate are vacating Buffalo’s tallest building, what is to be done with it? It seems that the building’s owners should have seen the writing on the wall as far back as a few years ago, but seem to be caught without a plan “B”. To the Buffalo News, Seneca One Realty explains that it’s bringing in the Urban Land Institute to help it decide what to do with 38 empty stories’ worth of building at the foot of Main Street. 

One more vacant office building creates a sudden and dramatic glut of not-quite-class-A office space that will likely depress values throughout downtown Buffalo. For all intents and purposes, it joins the I-190 as a wall that separates Buffalo’s waterfront from its downtown. 

Now, more than ever, it’s time to consider transforming downtown into a sales tax-free zone in order to stimulate economic activity there



  • Sell it to the Senecas for a casino/hotel complex, and watch downtown flourish.

  • As acclaimed of a project as it is, the Larkin Center may be partly to blame.  Much of the demand for large floorplate Class A office space in downtown Buffalo has been met in recent years by a 1,3oo,ooo square foot former warehouse building a mile to the east.

    I forgot where I first saw the statistic (maybe a ULI or Census report of some sort?), but it claimed that Buffalo has the least amount of office space per person among the 50 largest major metropolitan areas in the United States.  The amount was comically small compared to even Rochester, Tulsa, Louisville, and the like.   Even in its glory days, Buffalo always had a diminutive skyline for a city its size; it was never a corporate headquarters kind of town.  Its suburbs never developed the edge cities that sprouted on the fringes of its peers, mainly because there was never the same demand.  Buffalonians worked primarily in industry, the trades, medicine and education, and they never had much of a need for traditional office space. 

    Let’s keep our fingers crossed, and hope the Marine Midland Center — might as well use the old school name — doesn’t end up as some giant server farm with some imperceptibly small number of neckbearded employees, or just sit empty for years with overinflated rents, serving its owner as collateral for higher return projects elsewhere.

  • This is just the beginning. We have static or declining demand for all buildings in Buffalo. Both the city and the county lost population last decade. This is not a NEW thing, we have lost population every decade since 1950. We don’t need more buildings.

    For some reason the public does not grasp that fact as we applaud all of the ridiculous economic development initiatives here. Check out the BUDC Riverbend project. The site is about as large as the medical campus and larkin district combined. 

  • Right answer, Alan!

    Cuomo’s magnanimous “gift” of a billion in foregone property taxes won’t ever be recouped.  It will do nothing but lead to ill-advised and otherwise-unprofitable projects being created at the pleasure of state bureaucrats (whose economic decisions are suspect.)   But a sales-tax-free zone in downtown Buffalo might actually draw real people down there and convince them to spend some real money. 

    Retail doesn’t create a lot of wealth — but it does create some.  Better that than feel-good medical projects which will soon lose their lustre as health care costs go through the roof.  Which they will.

  • Only an idiot would allow this….

    “Now, more than ever, it’s time to consider transforming downtown into a sales tax-free zone in order to stimulate economic activity there. ”

    Too much of an unfair advantage to any local retailer in the local area.

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