Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 24, 2013

City council heading to a hotel vote?

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Bird has since told the Niagara Gazette the numbers he provided in the email were a rough estimate, not meant to be used as fact.

“I made a mistake by even saying that,” Bird said.

Bird said he encouraged city leaders to have a professional appraisal done on the site, as his expertise is in residential and not commercial real estate.

The land is assessed at $215,800 by the city assessor’s office, according to the office’s property database.

If the appraisal lists the market value as being far above the $100,000 quoted in the agreement that does not guarantee that the parcel would sell for that price, according to Bird.

“Even if an appraisal comes in at $800,000 it doesn’t mean you are going to sell it the next day,” Bird said. “You could end up sitting on it.”

On Tuesday, when presented with Bird’s comments, Choolokian said he has not sought out an appraisal from an outside commercial real estate firm, as it would only be another cost to city taxpayers.

“That’s something that USA Niagara or the city of Niagara Falls should have done originally,” Choolokian said.

Councilman Charles Walker and Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti both voted no to tabling the resolution and both have said they intend to make a motion to remove the measure from the table for a vote at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Choolokian and Fruscione both have expressed support for the project in the past. The council voted to establish Hamister Group as the preferred developer during a Feb. 22, 2012 City Council meeting.

Fruscione, then council chairman, publicly supported project in a press release dated Feb. 23, 2012 put out by the Empire State Development Corp., the state office that oversees economic development across New York.

“The Hamister proposal for 310 Rainbow Blvd. holds significant potential for our downtown and the City Council is pleased to support this project,” Fruscione said in the statement. “It will build upon the positive momentum generated by the (Niagara County Community College) Culinary Institute and the cooperative efforts of the city and state to develop our tourism corridor.”

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