Guaranty Building dispute carries on: Buffalo NY Business First, 10/17/07

DEA leaving Guaranty for new Buffalo home

The good news for Hodgson Russ LLP is that one governmental agency has exited the Guaranty Building. The bad news is a lawsuit against the federal government continues.

Hodgson Russ owns what is one of downtown Buffalo's landmark buildings, having acquired the 13-story structure five years ago. The law firm wants renovate the building and eventually bring all of its operations, spread out among three sites, under one roof. The firm employs some 350 workers.

The General Services Administration, however, has not fully complied. The GSA, responding to litigation launched by Hodgson Russ this past summer, filed eminent domain proceedings shortly thereafter. Gary Schober, president of the law firm, said both sides are trying to resolve the dispute amicably.

"The impact of what they've done won't go away," he said. "The firm is incurring economic damage out of pocket and is causing an interruption of business."

In the meantime, the Internal Revenue Service has all but vacated space it had been occupying on the fourth and fifth floors, having relocated to the Olympic Towers, according to Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, who has backed Hodgson Russ in the dispute. Higgins has termed the GSA's position as "bureaucracy at its worst."

Though the IRS has left, Schober said the Drug Enforcement Agency remains and the GSA, invoking the right of eminent domain, has condemned the DEA's space on the second and third floors until July 2008.

A GSA official was not immediately available for comment but Higgins, in a statement, said the process of finding a new office site for the DEA is underway.

Buffalo NY Business First: http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo