Niagara Gazette

Local News

September 6, 2013

Cuomo kept Hamister from walking away from Falls hotel project

A downtown hotel project that was on the verge of unraveling remains alive for the time being.

Mark Hamister, the Chairman and CEO of the development firm the Hamister Group, told the Gazette he was prepared to announce that he was walking away from investing $22 million in a mixed-use building project in downtown Niagara Falls before he got a call from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"We were within an hour of finalizing the decision to walk away when the governor called," Hamister said.

Cuomo convinced the developer to stay on board while the governor worked to urge the politicians involved to settle their differences, Hamister said.

"He made it clear to me that this project was important to his overall plan for the region and he would get personally involved to make sure it goes forward," Hamister said.

Hamister has been frustrated with the slow progress on the deal, but was committed to sticking it out until the end of September until a political attack mailer, funded by the recently-formed political action committee Western New York Progressive Caucus, was circulated earlier this week characterizing the developer as a con man looking to fleece the taxpayers of Niagara Falls.

The mailer lauded City Councilman Sam Fruscione, who is running for reelection and faces a primary next week, for "asking tough questions" of the state and the developer.

Hamister described the flyer as "despicable" and said he was astonished, as a private business man, that he would be dragged into a political fight.

"I personally feel that there is no excuse for the disturbing and reprehensible mailer that was circulated on behalf of a certain councilman," he said.

Hamister called the mailer "libelous" and said it is an example of the type of mud slinging that is "everything that's wrong with politics today."

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