Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 3, 2013

Council majority wants to table sales agreement for parcel in downtown hotel project

Niagara Gazette — An agreement to sell a city-owned parcel to a Buffalo firm looking to develop a $25 million hotel will likely be put on hold next week amid questions from a trio of Niagara Falls lawmakers. 

Members of the city council majority said Wednesday they intend to table a proposed sales agreement with the Hamister Group, Inc. which is looking to acquire the city-owned lot at 310 Rainbow Blvd. 

Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian and fellow lawmakers Sam Fruscione and Robert Anderson Jr. believe the proposed deal does not offer a fair return to the city for the parcel in question. They also maintain they were not provided sufficient information during the process leading up to the selection of Hamister as the project's preferred developer. 

"We have concerns about the whole thing from start to finish, really," Choolokian said.

Mayor Paul Dyster said he does not intend to pull the item from consideration before Monday's council meeting. 

"We were operating with an understanding here that we were going to try to achieve certain things with this development effort," Dyster said. "If they are going to kill the largest development in downtown Niagara Falls since the casino, they are going to have to explain it to the people who would be getting jobs here. 

"I don't get it. I just don't get it." 

The parcel in question once served as home to the Great American Balloon Co.'s tethered helium balloon ride. It was turned over to the city by Niagara County Community College after the college acquired it as part of developer David Cordish's agreement to release his rights to the former Rainbow Centre Mall building downtown. 

The Hamister proposal, selected from a group of seven submitted to the state-run USA Niagara Development Corp., calls for the construction of a five- to seven-story building on the site. The proposed building would offer 104 upscale hotel rooms, 24 market rate residential units and between 5,000 and 8,000-square feet of retail space on the ground floor along Old Falls Street. The project is projected to produce 130 permanent jobs and 219 jobs during construction.

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