Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 8, 2013

Council majority puts $25M hotel project on hold

A $25 million hotel project the head of New York state's development office characterized as a "very important opportunity" and one that should be taken "very seriously" by the city of Niagara Falls has been put on hold, as promised, by a trio of city lawmakers. 

As they vowed to do last week, the three-member council majority voted Monday to table an agreement with Hamister Development Co., the Buffalo firm that is looking to build a multi-story hotel and mixed-use building on a piece of vacant city owned land located at 310 Rainbow Blvd.

Following Monday's council vote, Cheryl Green, vice president and general counsel for The Hamister Group, Inc., said the decision does not represent an end to the project as far as her company is concerned. Green indicated the company remains "very excited" about getting into the hotel business in downtown Niagara Falls. 

"We respect the process and so therefore we'll let the city of Niagara Falls and USA (Niagara) work through the issues that were presented," Green said. 

In a 3-2 vote, city lawmakers tabled a proposed development deal with Hamister. Members of the council majority, including Chairman Glenn Choolokian and fellow lawmakers Sam Fruscione and Robert Anderson Jr. voted in favor of tabling the measure. Council members Kristin Grandinetti and Charles Walker opposed the move. 

All three majority members questioned the process leading up to the selection of Hamister as the project's preferred developer and expressed concern about the asking price for the parcel in question. Choolokian and his colleagues, citing an estimate provided by City Asssessor James Bird, believe the land is worth between $1.5 million and $2 million. They objected to the sales price included in the proposed development agreement, which calls for Hamister to buy it for $100,000. 

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