Bank opening new HQ in Albany, N.Y.

Mar. 1--ALBANY -- First Niagara Bank is going to establish a new regional headquarters in Albany that will include 200 employees in a new 35,000-square-foot building off Patroon Creek Boulevard.

Most of the employees who will move into the new space -- known as a Market Center -- will be executive staff, commercial bankers and insurance agents. They will be moving from smaller offices around the region, including offices that the Lockport-based bank leases in Corporate Woods in Colonie.

Thomas Amell, First Niagara's eastern region president, said the bank has similar market centers in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.

The new Albany center will have prominent signage and will put all of the company's commercial bankers under one roof -- with room for expansion. "It's really a huge step forward for us," Amell said. "It solidifies our commitment to the Capital District."

The move does not affect First Niagara's 36 branches in the region. Staff there who deal with retail customers will remain working out of the branches.

First Niagara has $2 billion in deposits in the Capital Region, making it the fourth-largest bank in the area, according to the latest figures from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. KeyBank is the largest with $4.2 billion in deposits.

The new $8.5 million, two-story Patroon Creek building, which will be owned by Columbia Development Cos. of Albany, will also include a small banking branch expected to be used mostly by commercial clients and employees.

The construction firm for the project, expected to break ground in April and be completed in October, will be BBL Construction Services of Albany.

Columbia has been an active developer in the Patroon Creek area, which is just north of the University at Albany and the Harriman State Office Campus.

The company is a part owner of the 180,000-square-foot building that is headquarters to CDPHP, the health plan company. The company also owns another 161,000-square-foot building there and is planning another 60,000-square-foot building.

Richard Rosen, vice president of Columbia, said the company was planning to build the new building at Patroon Creek and then found First Niagara to occupy it. The bank will be the only tenant.

"It's a perfect fit," he said.

Copyright (c) 2008, Albany Times Union, N.Y. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.