Niagara Gazette

Opinion

August 2, 2013

GUEST VIEW: The Hamister hotel project - by the numbers

Niagara Gazette — Numbers don’t lie. A new job-creating, tax-producing development is being jeopardized in Niagara Falls. This is the same information I presented at the last city council meeting, not because I am running for re-election, but because it’s my job to focus on the facts.

The city council majority, made of Councilmen Glenn Choolokian, Sam Fruscione and Robert Anderson, voted to table the sale of 310 Rainbow Blvd. to the Hamister Group twice in July. The Hamister Group wants to create the first privately funded downtown mixed-use development in a generation. The project has not changed since the city council unanimously selected the Hamister Group as the preferred developer in 2012. Now, misinformation is spreading and that is unacceptable. So here is the 310 Rainbow Blvd. Project by the numbers:

• $25.3 million: The total project cost for the project, including a 114-room hotel, 24 apartments and up to 5,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

 55: Estimated construction jobs created.

• 23: Full-time equivalent – estimated permanent jobs created after constructions.

• $0: Amount of cash being requested from the city of Niagara Falls. The Hamister Group is privately funding 90 percent of the project cost, and working with Empire State Development and the Niagara County IDA for their assistance, not the city’s.

• $100,000: The city’s sale price of the land. The lot is officially assessed at $215,800 and was last sold for $145,000 in 2001. The highest bid received during last year’s procurement process was for the assessed value, but it requested city incentives that we disagreed with. Any multi-million dollar “estimates” are being misinterpreted. Also, if so many “business people” are willing to pay top dollar, where have they been over the last four decades?

• 27 years: Time this land sat undeveloped between 1981 and 2013. It is the painful reminder of Urban Renewal’s failure. It was gifted to the city as part of the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute project, and I want it developed. The sale of the property is the city’s part of the Hamister agreement. The council majority understood that idea all along. At the Feb. 22, 2012, council meeting, Choolokian asked (word-for-word), “Are we still on track that this is going to cost the city of Niagara Falls no money involved other than giving you guys the land?” The answer now, as it was then, is yes. Not only are we not contributing money, we are selling the property for profit, not giving it away.

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