What's Next for HSBC Tower?

February 25, 2013 Updated Feb 25, 2013 at 7:48 PM EDT

By WKBW Admin

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February 25, 2013 Updated Feb 25, 2013 at 7:48 PM EDT

BUFFALO (WKBW) It has been a bit of a mass exodus for the tenants of the HSBC tower in Downtown Buffalo, and instead of facing a vacant 40 floors of nothing, city leaders are doing something about it.

By the end of the year, nearly 90 percent of the 40 floor HSBC tower will be empty, as it's namesake bank leaves.

"This building, from my way of thinking, is critical for the future of this community," Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said.

A team of developers, architects, and business pros have now descended on the Queen City to meet for a whirlwind of three days and present their suggestions for what should be done with One HSBC Center.

"The strength of this process is that people come in from outside the community with experience in a variety of different contexts and they bring fresh set of eyes and perspective," chair of the Urban Land Institute panel Charles Long said.

Long has worked on more than a dozen similar panels, advising communities on solutions to problems of businesses leaving, rebuilding, and more. His group makes suggestions and leaves the work to the local community.

"Hopefully we leave with the community good ideas that they are willing to spend their time and energy to make work," Long added.

The Buffalo Urban Development Corporation is footing the bill for the panel, and once suggestions are made, the Mayor says there is already money out there to be used on redeveloping the building. That is something its stakeholders and owners are optimistic about.

"The building worked well for a long time and it's got to be repositioned, re-imagined if you will, but we see it as having a wonderful future. there's a lot of untapped potential here and that's what we're trying to get out over the next few days," Stephen Fitzmaurice of Seneca One Realty said.

Some ideas the panel will look into for the future of the tower include office space, condos, hotel rooms, a restaurant, observation deck, or some combination of all of the above. Those findings will be announced Thursday morning.