Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 13, 2013

An upgrade for the Comfort Inn?

Niagara Gazette — A downtown hotel property is heading for a makeover as part of an effort by the owners to maintain its franchise label.

Representatives from Maid of the Mist Hospitality, LLC — the company that owns the Comfort Inn The Pointe hotel at 1 Prospect Point downtown — told officials from the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency on Wednesday that they plan to invest $4 million to refurbish the site and bring it up to the standards of Choice Hotels, the chain in charge of the Comfort Inn franchise. 

The hotel's owners have requested a 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement through the agency to assist with the financing of the project, which will involve updates of all guest rooms, including bathrooms, lighting, carpeting, wall finishes, air conditioning and windows. In addition, new carpeting and finishes will be installed in the corridors and lobby, elevator cabs and hydraulics will be replaced and new public restrooms and a fitness center will be constructed. Facade improvements and parking lot repairs will also be undertaken, according to the firm's application to the NCIDA. 

"It will give an entirely new look to the product to bring it up to the Choice standards," said Tricia Mezhir, the hotel's general manager. 

Maid of the Mist Hospitality, which is a subsidiary of the Maid of the Mist Corp. boat tour operators, has applied for a 10-year commercial PILOT as well as sales and mortgage recording tax exemptions. NCIDA officials estimate that the project will result in the retention of 17 full- and 47 part-time jobs at the hotel as well as the creation of one full-time and four part-time positions by the end of year three of the deal. 

The agency estimates that the firm will receive $560,000 in property tax exemptions during the PILOT period as well as $183,000 in sales tax exemptions on construction and furnishings. The agency estimates that Maid of the Mist Hospitality would pay $284,000 in property tax payments under the proposed agreement. With the PILOT payments, the hotel's annual payroll of $787,000, the new jobs to be created, annual labor income of indirect jobs created, sales tax revenue to be generated and the value of the renovated facility, the NCIDA estimates that the project will have a $3.9 million benefit to the community.

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