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JULY 15 - JULY 23, 2014

Hamisterís Hyatt Place Still Not a Done Deal

By Tony Farina

July 15, 2014

The most valuable undeveloped parcel of land in downtown Niagara Falls, 310 Rainbow Blvd, only 150 feet from the Niagara Falls State Park, was gifted to the Hamister Group when they promised an upscale hotel. Afterward they shifted plans to a taxpayer subsidized, mid-scale business hotel.  No one has called them on this.

The public will have to wait at least a few more weeks to get a look at the final plans for the much-hyped, highly subsidized Hamister hotel project on Rainbow Blvd. in Niagara Falls.

  We reported July 1 that the Hamister Group, which won the development rights on the prime downtown property in a highly secret bid process, was reportedly struggling financially trying to finally close the Hyatt Place deal in Niagara Falls and also overhaul the Tishman Building in Buffalo that will feature a top shelf Hilton Garden Inn.

     “There’s still a lot of design details to work out with Hyatt,” Hamister spokeswoman Andrea Czopp told the Buffalo News last week after delaying for at least another month submitting the final design plans for the Hyatt Hotel to the Niagara Falls Planning Board. 

    The Hamister Group pulled design plans for a 146-room Hyatt Place last month saying it needed more time to finalize the arrangement with Hyatt.  They had been expected to submit the final plans in time for the July 23 Niagara Falls Planning Board meeting, the final session before the board’s August recess, but last week’s announcement means the earliest the final plans will come before the planning board is in September.

    We should note that city and state officials, including Mayor Paul Dyster and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, pulled out every stop to ram the Hamister deal through a cautious Niagara Falls City Council before last September’s primary vote that unseated incumbent Dyster foe Sam Fruscione who had been most vocal in seeking more details on the Hamister project.

     Now, a year later, it’s anybody’s guess when work will finally start on the project that backers said would save downtown Niagara Falls and spur new development.  And even if and when work does start, it won’t be on a high end Hyatt Regency or a grand hotel on that scale, but on a Hyatt Place that targets business travelers.  That’s the “transformational” project that all the fuss was about and is still far from a done deal.

     So the public is left to wonder what the urgency was last fall to push the Hamister project through the divided council when details about financing and questions about the sweetheart sale price ($100,000) by the city to the developer were still much in play.

    Here we are, a year later, and government officials are sitting mute as the Hamister Group struggles to salvage a project that was billed as the next thing to another cataract when it was sold to the public.

 

 

 

 

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