Niagara Gazette

Opinion

August 4, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Economic development and the Hamister project

Niagara Gazette — Niagara Falls has gone through an extended period of disappointing economic growth and increasing political polarization. If the transformation of our community into a prime tourist destination is to take place, then city leaders must work as one with one vision and a deliberate plan of action.

Niagara Falls must take advantage of sound economic development opportunities either in the form of multi-million dollar projects or small business ventures. We must begin to fast-track economic development and the jobs that come along with it. Let’s not only go find the developers but when they arrive, they must be guaranteed that we will negotiate in good faith and be upfront with all of our concerns.

“Over the years, Niagara Falls has developed an unfortunate reputation for being a place where good projects go to die, often due to infighting, poor decision making, and petty politics.” (Niagara Gazette editorial, July 17)

Presently our city and its residents have the opportunity to benefit from the development of a hotel on the Parcel 4, located on 310 Rainbow Boulevard. The developer is the Hamister Group Inc. Do you know that when the Rainbow Center Mall opened in 1982, it was the expectation of city planners that the development of Parcel 4 would soon follow? However, developer David S. Cordish never proposed anything substantial for this site. Furthermore, had not Parcel 4 been included with the transfer of Rainbow Center to Niagara County Community College, Cordish would have retained the lease on this property until 2056.

In his June 2009 audit, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli faulted city government for a lack of oversight regarding the leases extended to Cordish and NFR. DiNapoli said, “On something like economic development, you can’t just do it on a hope and good faith. You really do need to specify more clearly what the benchmarks are.”

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