Niagara Gazette

Local News

September 6, 2013

Mailer delivers anxiety for Hamister project


Niagara Gazette —

USA Niagara is the lead agency on the procurement process known as a request for proposals on the 310 Rainbow Blvd. parcel.

Representatives from the Hamister Group, USA Niagara and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The development deal has become politically charged in recent months with a trio of city council members – Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian, Councilman Sam Fruscione and Councilman Robert Anderson Jr. – calling into question the terms of  the proposed development agreement that has been in the works since February when Hamister Group was selected as the preferred developer for the parcel.

Those council members voted to table a resolution to approve the agreement between the developer, the state and the city at the July 8 council meeting. It has remained tabled since.

The city received the land — a parking lot with a small building that currently houses a restaurant —  as part of a gift that included the former Rainbow Centre mall building from Baltimore developer David Cordish in 2009.

The proposed agreement would see the land sold to Hamister Group for $100,000 and the company receive a $2.75 million state grant in exchange for a promise to complete the $25.3 million mixed-use building which would include a hotel, residential space and retail space.

The lawmakers calling the deal into question have said that the sale price for the prime piece of real estate is too low and that Dyster is afforded too much power in the proposed deal.

Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson has been working with USA Niagara and the developer in an effort to address the concerns of the council members.

Schoepflin has acknowledged that the price of the land is below market value by design, and has said it is part of an incentive package that will leverage tens of millions of dollars in private investment.

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