Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 3, 2013

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

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Acting on a recommendation from USA Niagara, the city council voted in February 2012 to accept the Hamister Group as the project's "preferred developer."

Majority members now say they do not agree with the proposed sale price for the property. While the agreement calls for it to be sold to Hamister for $100,000, Choolokian said he believes, based on an informal estimate he received from City Assessor Jim Byrd, that the city's asking price should be substantially more, perhaps as high as $1.5 million to $2 million. 

Majority members say the $100,000 figure is not adequate for a "prime" piece of real estate located on the edge of Niagara Falls State Park, nor do they believe it is fair to other downtown business and property owners or to city taxpayers. 

"I'd like to see a fair and equitable price that's beneficial to all the people of Niagara Falls," Fruscione said. 

Choolokian and Fruscione and the council's chief of staff, Kevin Ormsby, joined USA Niagara Development Corp. President Chris Schoepflin and Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson to discuss the details of the project on Monday.

Choolokian contends council members were not provided adequate information about the proposal in the months leading up to the meeting. He said he personally would like to know more about the other development ideas that were not chosen during the selection process. 

"We really had no say in this process of picking anybody," Choolokian said.   

Anderson said he has concerns as well and would like them addressed. 

"We want to get this ironed out. That's all," he said. 

In a statement issued in response to questions, USA Niagara spokesperson Laura Magee said the city has been well aware since it unanimously approved Hamister as the preferred developer that its contribution to the project would be the land. At the time, Magee said USA Niagara committed to funding grant incentives needed to move the project forward and the agency "continues to be prepared to do so, subject to our board’s approval."

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