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BlueCross BlueShield Settles on Downtown Site for New Headquarters

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York has selected an historic downtown site for its new headquarters.

The health insurer announced late Wednesday afternoon that it will locate its corporate offices at 249 West Genesee Street. The site was once home to the old Buffalo Gas Works.

BlueCross BlueShield spokeswoman Laura Perry said the company had decided two years ago not to renew its lease at its existing office complex at Main and Jefferson.

"We needed a lot more room," Perry said. "We have about 250,000 square feet right now. Canisius was looking to expand its campus. It was a win-win for everybody. So, Canisius is going to buy the building from Uniland."

There had been much speculation that Blue Cross Blue Shield would relocate to a site now occupied by the old AM&A's building downtown. But there was no firm commitment of the public dollars needed to tear down that building so the site could be redeveloped.

Perry said it was only recently that Blue Cross Blue Shield zeroed in on the Gas Works site.

"We looked at about 130 sites across the suburbs and city," Perry said. "We had not identified a final site until the past couple of months."

BlueCross BlueShield is planning a 350,000 square foot building and will bring more than 1,200 new jobs downtown when the complex opens in late 2007.

The original facade of the Gas Works facility remains and Perry said the company hopes to incorporate it into the design of the new headquarters.