Hochul spends $2 million on new office in campaign donor’s building
As is the sequel.
Governor Kathy Hochul has asked the state to shell out $2 million for a spacious, state-of-the-art executive office in a Buffalo building whose owner is a major campaign contributor, according to documents obtained by The Post. .
Hochul’s new expedited digs in his hometown include access to a balcony, a stylish mural titled “Go!” painted on one side of the building and a rooftop garden, according to published reports.
“When she became governor, she ordered her office to be expanded by knocking down a wall and given access to a balcony,” a source familiar with the office expansion said.
Extensive renovations to the fifth floor of the mixed-use building in 95 Perry Street. in Buffalo’s historic Cobblestone neighborhood began shortly after Hochul replaced the late Andrew Cuomo as governor in August and continued until last April, records show.
She is heavily favored to win the Democratic primary on June 28 and face a Republican in five months.
Developer Samuel Savarino of Savino Companies — which built, owns and operates the renovated warehouse — donated $62,500 to Hochul’s campaign pool. The majority of that dough, $37,500, was paid out after Hochul became governor, according to her campaign records filed with the state Board of Elections.
Hochul, who was born and raised in Buffalo and lives there, used the same building for a much smaller office when she was lieutenant governor, sources said.
Her public schedule since becoming governor shows she has spent about 12 days in Buffalo, mostly following the horrific shooting massacre there last month.
Neither Cuomo nor his gubernatorial predecessor, George Pataki, had a third office besides those they had in the State Capitol building in Albany and the traditional New York governor’s office on Third. Avenue in Manhattan.
Critics have criticized the under-the-radar spending on Hochul’s new digs while noting the building’s owner’s contributions to his political war chest.
“This absolutely stinks and should be investigated,” Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy told the Post of the situation.
Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi, one of Hochul’s opponents in the upcoming June 28 Democratic primary, also lambasted the plan.
“[She] reneged on his promise that ‘ethical government would be the hallmark’ of his administration,” Suozzi said.
The “Executive Bedroom Renovation” project was paid for by the Empire State Development Corp., the state’s major tenant for office space in the building.
A breakdown of expenses for renovations to the leased building includes:
- $413,793 for electrical work
- $362,400 for architectural and engineering work
- $240,349 for doors and frames
- $179,689 to owner/general contractor Savarino Companies for supervision, cleaning and provision of temporary facilities
- $172,955 for finishes;
- $137,309 for heating, ventilation and air conditioning and $118,745 for specialized construction
Expenses also include $67,820 for demolition and debris removal; $1,380 for appliances; $17,595 for furnishings; $88,317 for fire suppression; $20,700 for plumbing; $67,289 for communications; $15,000 for electrical safety and security; $10,925 for exterior improvements and $18,143 for insurance.
The total value or cost with change orders is $2,002,831.42, according to invoices filed by the contractor and subcontractors.
The Hochul administration says the renovations and expansion were done primarily for security purposes, not for “convenience or luxury.”
“For the Governor’s safety and security, renovations have been made to one floor of a building leased by Empire State Development,” ESD said in a statement. “All work was performed in accordance with State Police requirements to ensure the welfare of the Governor while working in Western New York.”
But the ESD also said the renovations were done to accommodate the need for additional management staff as well as security personnel, in addition to other security measures and upgrades.
The agency added that the balcony had been a feature of the building since 2008, when the economic development agency first rented space there and nearby offices were not altered to create better access. for the governor.
The state police also released a statement saying it “conducted a review of existing facilities and determined that changes were necessary to meet the governor’s security needs.”
“These were not convenience or luxury changes, but vital improvements to protect the Governor’s safety and security as deemed necessary by state police,” the statement said.
The Office of General Services, responsible for managing leases for state agencies, said in a separate statement that it is reimbursing ESD for the cost of renovations for upgrades “necessary for security reasons related to governor’s occupation”.