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Xerox leaving downtown Rochester, relocating hundreds to Webster

Xerox spokesperson Bill McKee said the company will transition several hundred of its 3,400 employees in Monroe County to its campus in Webster by this summer. (WHAM photo - file, 2013)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHAM) - Xerox will no longer maintain a presence in downtown Rochester.

The company announced Friday it has negotiated an early termination of its lease for Xerox Square on South Clinton Avenue.

Xerox spokesperson Bill McKee said the company will transition several hundred of its 3,400 employees in Monroe County to its campus in Webster by this summer. Employees will transition to the Webster campus over a staggered stretch of time.

Webster is the largest office space for Xerox's global operations, with more than five million square feet of office, manufacturing, lab and warehouse space.

CEO Jeff Jacobson said less than half of Xerox's office space was being used in Xerox Square.

“The move will reinforce our commitment to the region. By relocating our employees to Xerox-owned facilities in Webster, we will enhance team collaboration while investing in our owned facilities versus leased space,” said CEO Jeff Jacobson.

The news of the move doesn't surprise local business leaders.

"I don’t think the community will be shell-shocked," said Rochester Downtown Development Corporation president Heidi Zimmer Meyer. "I think that took place a long time ago here, with our big three, and with Xerox specifically...I think it’s an icon that will changed, but so much has changed down here [in downtown] that we can just add it to the list.”

"This is something you can’t help," said Bob Duffy of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce. "This was a business decision they’re making.”

Duffy said there is good news in this move.

“The most important thing is the jobs are staying here," he said. "Shifting from downtown to Webster would certainly be an impact to downtown. We’ll have to work harder and work with GRE [Greater Rochester Enterprise] and the downtown business community and city and county to try and fill that space."

But it's hard to say how long that would take. Business leaders suggest several companies would have to move in or a developer to re-purpose the tower like many other properties in downtown.

"The one thing we do in this community is, we bounce back," said Zimmer Meyer, adding that there's been $2.2 billion in private investments into downtown alone since 2000. "We try to find different ways of using not only old facilities, but retooling industry sectors.”

She said the amount of office space used in this country is less than it used to be.

The 30-story tower was built in 1965 and was fully occupied by August 1968. Xerox Square also has a two-story annex, four-story auditorium that seats 700 people and has a two-story underground parking garage.

In August 2013, the company sold Xerox Square to Buckingham Properties in a $40 million deal. Under the agreement, Xerox would be the sole tenant of the building for eight years with the option to renew at the end of the lease.

Earlier this week, billionaire investor Carl Icahn called for Jacobson to be removed as the company reportedly sought a deal with Fujifilm.

In late 2016, Xerox announced it was splitting into two companies - Conduent and Xerox.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said the city will work with RTS to ensure people living in Rochester will be able to get to work in Webster.

Xerox has been and continues to be an important part of Rochester’s economy, and I am glad these jobs will remain in Monroe County. The City of Rochester will continue working with RTS and other partners to ensure that relocated employees will be able to fully access their jobs. Xerox Square will remain a significant part of our Center City and it is important that it continues to be viable as we attract more jobs, build safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and create better educational opportunities for each of our citizens.
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