Niagara Gazette

Local News

September 6, 2013

Hamister talks hotel deal


Niagara Gazette — "It sends the wrong message to people who want to do business in Niagara Falls," Hamister said.

The developer said he is considering legal action.

Fruscione told the Gazette on Wednesday that he had nothing to do with the mailer and disagreed with the characterization of Hamister as a criminal, but did agree with the information praising his questioning of terms of the hotel proposal.

The WNY Progressive Caucus counts among its donors several current and former politicians and political party officials, from Western New York, including former Erie County Democratic Party Chairman and local attorney Steve Pigeon and state lawmaker Tim Kennedy. 

On Thursday, Dan Jones, a spokesperson for the WNY Progressive Caucus, said the group paid a private vendor to print and distribute the postcard in an effort to educate voters. Jones said the group produced the mailer to support Fruscione which it believes has done a good job of asking tough questions and standing up for taxpayers in Niagara Falls. Jones indicated that the mailer was not intended as a personal attack on Hamister, adding that the group did not have a position on the hotel project one way or another. 

The Hamister Group was selected as the preferred developer for a city owned parcel at 310 Rainbow Blvd. in February 2012, the result of a request for proposals process led by the state's local economic development arm, USA Niagara Development Corp. The "preferred developer" status was approved unanimously by all five members of the city council.

The company and USA Niagara negotiated the terms of a proposed deal that would allow the developer to buy the parcel for $100,000 and receive a $2.75 million state grant. The remainder of the $25.3 million project would be funded by Hamister. The proposal was presented to the council for approval in July.

A trio of council members - Fruscione, Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian and Councilman Robert Anderson Jr. - voted to table the agreement saying the state run procurement process lacked transparency while raising concerns over the price of the land. In recent weeks, all three lawmakers have suggested the proposed agreement lacks adequate protective measures for the city and its residents.

Hamister said he will stick to his stated end-of-September deadline for movement on the project before walking away. After talking to Cuomo and local officials, he said he is confident that an agreement can be reached even sooner.

"We're hoping to get it wrapped up in the next one to two weeks," Hamister said.

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