Niagara Gazette — The future of a $25 million hotel project in downtown Niagara Falls looked to be on the verge of falling apart on Thursday while city and state officials fought to keep the developer from walking away.
The anxious moments were a result of an anonymous political mailer circulated Tuesday touting city councilman Sam Fruscione’s questioning of the deal and characterizing Mark Hamister as a con man trying to fleece the taxpayers of Niagara Falls.
The Hamister Group, the developer selected to build on a city-owned parcel through a state procurement process, announced that it would hold a press conference at the firm’s Williamsville offices Thursday afternoon, but cancelled that press conference Thursday morning.
Local NBC affiliate WGRZ said the purpose of the press conference was to announce that the developer would be walking away from the deal, though they did not cite the source of the information.
Mayor Paul Dyster said the company had not told him what the purpose of the press conference was, but that he was trying to set up a meeting with Mark Hamister, the company’s chairman and CEO and Chris Schoepflin, the president of USA Niagara Development Corp., the local arm of the state’s development office.
Later in the day Thursday, Dyster reported Gov. Andrew Cuomo had spoken to Hamister and several local officials.
“He wanted to make sure that everyone knew that the project was important to his economic department strategy in Niagara Falls and the surrounding region,” the mayor said.
Dyster said he spoke to a representative from Hamister Group on Thursday in an effort to set up meeting to discuss project today, but did not think it would happen. Dyster said he felt having a meeting before the end of the week was less critical in light of Cuomo’s discussion with Hamister himself.