Kenney Shelton Liptak and Nowak - Buffalo, NY
The Kenney Shelton Liptak Nowak law firm in downtown Buffalo became property owners when space in the offices they had been leasing for almost two decades became tight. Buying a large historic building in the city’s entertainment district addressed two issues: First, the partners wanted to make a permanent investment in the city’s downtown. Second, they needed enough space to handle the growth their firm was experiencing.
But the numbers had to work.
They turned to M&T Bank, their longtime lender, and Denise Mlynarick, a commercial banker and vice president at M&T. Mlynarick brought in Empire State CDC: The 504 Company to partner in a 20-year, $2.62 million loan to cover the building’s $725,000 cost and a $1.9 million makeover.
Since July 2012, Kenney Shelton Liptak and Nowak has operated from the three-story, historic Calumet Building that is located less than a half-mile from the courthouse. The law firm’s 35 attorneys and 35 staff members occupy the two upper floors. A fine-dining restaurant and taco shop occupy the first floor.
"Kenney Shelton Liptak Nowak's project is great example of a productive renovation of an older building in downtown Buffalo," said Mlynarick, whose company is headquartered in Buffalo. "By working with the New York Business Development Corporation and our other public and private sector partners, M&T Bank is able to leverage additional sources of capital to continue financing these commercial development projects that are revitalizing our headquarters city," she said.
The four law partners - Patrick Kenney, Judith Treger Shelton, Tom Liptak and James Nowak - own the property along with local real estate investors Angelo Natale and Frank Parisi.
One benefit of the SBA-backed loan to the borrowers is the lower interest rates. Their up-front investment was also less than what is typically required.
"If we had been unable to access the SBA loan, we probably would have gone for 100 percent financing through the bank. That would have cost the building's owners more money and, in turn, made it less beneficial to the firm as a tenant," said Tom Liptak, a partner and founding member of the firm.
The second and third floors in the historic building had not been occupied in decades. As such, they required gutting, total rehab and installing a costly elevator to bring the building in compliance under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The partners have a strong commitment to downtown Buffalo and wanted to assist with the city's ongoing revitalization. Their project rejuvenated one of the city's most prominent structures and was key to downtown development, said Mike Taylor, senior vice president with the 504 Company.
"KSLN, which enjoyed a strong reputation in the community, was seeking financing to move from their leased facility to a wholly owned facility," Taylor said. "This kept the firm in the downtown corridor, as well as provided financing to renovate a historic building in the city."
The larger space was expected to accommodate growth five years out. The law firm has filled the space in less than two years.
"That's a pretty fine indication of the firm's growth," Liptak said. "From that standpoint, we've exceeded all expectations."