Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 24, 2013

While Hamister watches, council majority refuses to move project forward

Niagara Gazette — A development deal that would see a $25 million mixed-use building go up in downtown Niagara Falls is still alive, but it’s on life support.

The city council voted to keep a proposed development agreement between Buffalo-based developer Hamister Group, USA Niagara Development Corp. and the city tabled during Wednesday’s council meeting after voting to shelf the agreement at the July 8 council meeting. The legislative body does not meet in August, meaning that the issue will not come up for a vote until at least September unless a special meeting is called.

After the council meeting, Mark Hamister, the chairman and CEO of Hamister Group, said his company will walk away from the project if lawmakers do not come to terms and move the process forward soon.

“We are going to try and stay patient for at least another month or two while the appropriate elected officials work out the issues that they have and advance questions,” Hamister said.

But if the agreement does not move forward under the terms that have been negotiated the company will pull up stakes on the project, Hamister said.

“We have enough projects to do elsewhere,” he said.

Hamister said in the coming weeks he will travel to cities — Pittsburgh for example — where he is “highly welcomed” to discuss projects similar to the proposed Falls build.

“This is the only city on our list of projects at the current time where we are experiencing this level of frustration,” he said.

The council’s 3-2 vote to table the agreement at July 8 meeting came after members of the council majority — Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian, Councilman Sam Fruscione and Councilman Robert Anderson, Jr. — began raising questions about the value of the land the city would transfer to the developer for $100,000 as part of the agreement.

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