Niagara Gazette

Local News

September 6, 2013

Hamister talks hotel deal

Niagara Gazette — A downtown hotel project that was on the verge of unraveling remains alive for the time being.

Mark Hamister, chairman and CEO of the Hamister Group, told the Gazette on Friday that he was prepared to announce that he was walking away from investing $22 million in a hotel project in downtown Niagara Falls before he got a call from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"We were within an hour of finalizing the decision to walk away when the governor called," Hamister said.

Cuomo convinced the developer to stay on board while his office worked to urge local politicians to settle their differences, Hamister said.

"He made it clear to me that this project was important to his overall plan for the region and he would get personally involved to make sure it goes forward," Hamister said.

Hamister has been frustrated with the slow progress on the deal, but was committed to sticking it out until the end of September before a political attack mailer, funded by the recently-formed political action committee Western New York Progressive Caucus, was circulated earlier this week. The mailer characterized the developer's plan as a "con game" and suggested Hamister was looking to fleece the taxpayers of Niagara Falls.

The mailer lauded Councilman Sam Fruscione, who is running for reelection and faces a primary next week, for "asking tough questions" of the state and the developer.

Hamister described the flyer as "despicable" and said he was astonished, as a private business man, that he would be dragged into a political fight.

"I personally feel that there is no excuse for the disturbing and reprehensible mailer that was circulated on behalf of a certain councilman," Hamister said.

Hamister called the mailer "libelous" and said it is an example of the type of mud slinging that is "everything that's wrong with politics today.

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