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Hamister Site Appraisal Surfaces, Pegs Value Much Higher Than Sale Price

Kristen Grandinetti has faith in the Hamister deal..

The Council Majority, Robert Anderson, Sam Fruscione, Glenn Choolokian alone have had the guts to question the Hamister proposal.

As part of the proposed Hamister hotel project now stalled in the council, the city of Niagara Falls would sell the prime downtown parcel at 310 Rainbow Blvd. to the developer for $100,000, a number that some city lawmakers see as closer to a giveaway than a sale given the initial estimate of a market value of between $1.5 million and $2 million by City Assessor James Bird.

Bird later waffled on his initial appraisal, saying it was just a rough estimate and the city should have a professional appraisal done to have a better idea of the property's market value. This newspaper has learned that a professional appraisal was done on the property not long ago and it is in line with Bird's unofficial estimate.

The Niagara Falls Reporter has learned that a professional appraisal was done in June 2011 by Real Property Services, L.L.C., of Williamsville, for the current lease holder on the property, John Guido, who had been considering a retail and Niagara Falls-themed museum attraction for the site, which is now operated as a parking lot. The professional appraisal pegged the property's unencumbered market value at $1.53 million, right with Bird's numbers.

While the sale price was only one of the stumbling blocks that caused the council to table the proposed sale at its July 8 meeting, the council's position on the value of the land is bolstered by the discovery of an appraisal commissioned in 2011 by Guido, who currently leases the property from the city.

Guido says he met with Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson and Council member Sam Fruscione to discuss his idea for the site, but while both of them thought it had potential, Guido says that by that time, the administration was already moving forward toward the RFP process that eventually led to the selection of the Hamister Group as the developer.

Guido never showed the city the appraisal he had commissioned, but this newspaper has a copy of the signed document prepared for Guido, who told the Niagara Falls Reporter that he had been willing to develop the property with his own money, without public subsidy, if the talks with the city had gone any further. They did not, and now the city is considering selling the property to Hamister for $100,000.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

AUG 06, 2013