Niagara Gazette — I had a conversation with Mark Hamister the other day.
He wants to build a $25 million hotel at 310 Rainbow Blvd.
There used to be a tethered helium balloon at the site. Today it’s a parking lot. And it may stay that way if the city council doesn’t find a way to approve the deal.
Because there’s been a lot of talk in the community about his company’s stalled hotel project, I put in a call to Hamister and asked to talk to him about the deal. He agreed.
During our conversation in the Amherst headquarters of the Hamister Group, he described how he came to the project at the suggestion of his son, Daniel, head of his company’s acquisitions. Daniel thought the Hamister Group could help fill the city’s need for higher-end hotels, and his father agreed. But, Hamister said many of his developer friends and others asked him why he would want to do business in Niagara Falls, a nod to the city’s unfortunate reputation for being a difficult place to do business.
The Hamisters dismissed the critics and moved forward.
Mark Hamister thought negotiations were done when his proposal for a mixed-use building with hotel, apartments, retail space was accepted by all five members of the city council in February.
However, when the development agreement came before the city council recently, three members expressed concern the city was giving away the lot too cheaply. While the city had originally offered the land for free, the deal proposed by Hamister included $100,000 for land.
One can only imagine that the Hamisters heard more than one “I told you so.”
Hamister said had he known upfront that council members wanted more money for the land — such as the $2 million being suggested now — he would have not submitted a proposal for the hotel project in the first place. They had a duty to say that up front, he said of concerns the land was being given away too cheaply.