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One Seneca Tower expected to open in 2018

WBFO File Photo

Since his purchase of Buffalo's tallest building, Washington-based developer Douglas Jemal has promised to bring new life to One Seneca Tower. That rebirth appears to be ahead of schedule. Appearing outside Monday's meeting of the city Planning Board, attorney Adam Walters says the project is moving forward at a "breakneck pace."

"We were planning to be done in early 2019; schedule since then has  actually accelerated. So, the retail buildings are going to be done in early fall and the apartments should be done by late fall," Walters said.

Much of the massive tower will remain empty as rehabilitation work focuses on the annex buildings adjacent to the tower.  Downtown travelers also may have noticed some new structures emerging at the site.

"The two new buildings that are being built already have steel up on the plaza. They were approved previously. You can drive by and see them. They are going to be two, new one-story retail buildings," said  Lauren Pacheco of the architectural firm Antunovich Associates.

The Planning Board approved some "very minor changes" to the renovation project, Walters said. 

One modification will keep the former cafeteria space intact, allowing for "food space inside the building." According to Walters, the ideas can be attributed to Jemal, who has been described as a constant presence at the site.