The Niagara Falls Reporter has confirmed that the Hamister Group has, contrary to what has been reported elsewhere, not filed for a building permit for their planned 128 room Hyatt Place Hotel at the downtown location of the city-owned lot at 310 Rainbow Blvd.
The Hamister Group presented architectural drawings to the code enforcement department, Acting Code Enforcement Director Lou Fontana told the Reporter.
According to Fontana, his department will review the drawings over the next week and it will either be approved as drawn or if there are required changes to meet code his department will recommend those changes and send it back to Hamister.
After Hamister gets the plans back, his architect will make the required changes and send it back to the city which will again review it.
With the back and forth and expected changes it will take another month or so. It is already nearly June and soon will come the summer and that too will pass and Hamister should be able to forestall building his hotel again this year.
However, Mayor Paul Dyster is running for reelection this year and criticism is already starting to mount concerning the Hamister hotel that Dyster said was the game changer in Niagara Falls.
The perfect strategy that the Reporter predicts the public will soon see is a late August or early September - just prior to the Democratic primary - staged ground breaking with the press and politicians coming to hear the glad tidings of the new hotel being built.
Except it won't be built.
It won't be built because it is a taxpayer subsidized hotel that requires a 9-1 private to taxpayer investment ratio. And Hamister has inflated the price beyond reasonable credulity. He has doubled the true price.
So sometime after the primary, Hamister will announce that due to the late start this season construction will actually not start until next season.
There is a provision in the contract, a little known one, snuck in there by Hamister and the city and USA Niagara that says if Hamister cannot build his hotel and he loses his financing because of reasons that can be declared to be the city's fault in connection with the lot now being used as a paid parking lot, and its tenant, Hamister can be "reimbursed" by the city and state, for his time and trouble, the sum $780,000 and he can walk away from the deal.
We see this as more likely than Hamister actually building a hotel at the price he claims he will build it at - $36 million for a 128 room Hyatt Place.
Hotel developers know that it costs only half that much to build a Hyatt Place hotel that size.
Hotel developers normally build Hyatt Place hotels for around $135,000 per room key. Hamister claims his Hyatt Place hotel will cost $275,000 per room key to build.
This is not possible unless Hamister is the builder and will charge himself double. Hamister says he is now seeking contractor bids on the hotel project.
The Reporter knows that true arms-length bids to build a Hyatt Place will result in a construction price of about $17 million.
Absent a fiscal watchdog within the Dyster administration the Reporter will take the role and offer to review Hamister's bids and show the public and Hamister how the hotel can be built for $17 million.