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Dyster's Facebook Friends Debate Hamister Land Sale

Mayor Paul Dyster calls the Hamister project the "tipping -point downtown development"

Sen. Charles Schumer weighed in on the Hamister hotel project. "It makes no sense," Sen. Charles Schumer said of the council's decision to study the written proposal before rushing to approve a deal. "I will be urging all parties to allow this to happen." But, has Sen. Schumer read the resolution that he wants the council to sign off on? If there is something that truly "makes no sense", it is Dyster's resolution.

Congressman Brian Higgins called the Hamister project "absolutely essential to the revitalization of downtown." Now we know that Congressmen frequently vote on bills they haven't read, but has Higgins even read the resolution he expects the council to approve?

While various moneyed interests have been vigorously encouraging the Niagara Falls council majority to vote to sell city-owned 310 Rainbow Blvd. to the Hamister Group for a mixed-use hotel, without a binding agreement, one wonders what the people who work and pay taxes in Niagara Falls think about the project.

After an editorial supporting the resolution appeared in the Niagara Gazette on July 17, Mayor Paul Dyster posted a link to the story on his own Facebook page, with this comment: "Hopefully the City Council will take this off the table ... and approve it."

Some of the mayor's Facebook friends posted comments in reply.

The comments are interesting and we present them here to get an idea of how some people feel.

Cheryl Caldwell-dutton:

The property where the hotel will sit is worth far more than you want to sell it for ($100,000). The council is right, I would not vote on it.

Sandy Rung-Meidenbauer:

Hotel jobs generally don't give their workers much pay and usually no benefits. The Falls needs real jobs again.... We don't need any more hotels. We need downtown to look like Clifton Hill. I love looking across the border at all the people and bright pretty lights. Let's do that and then make hotels.

Sam Hoyt, regional president of Empire State Development and one of four men who selected Hamister as the developer:

Mayor, You are absolutely right. This is a $23 million private sector investment in downtown Niagara Falls. Aside from the casino, we have not seen that type of investment in a generation. It will create hundreds of construction jobs and score(s) of permanent jobs. The city has not been asked to put a dime into the project. What's not to like? Let's hope that at least three people on Wednesday do the right thing. Failing to approve this project would send a horrible message to all developers (at a time when Niagara Falls is actually witnessing a resurgence of interest from developers) that Niagara Falls is not a friendly place to invest.

Cheryl Caldwell-dutton:

But can we be honest- yes, it will create jobs, more so short term, while they build the hotel. When the hotel is built, the construction workers will be gone and hotel staff won't make up for that. How many hotels do we need? There are already so many and the smaller hotels will lose business and have to close their doors. Then we will have more empty buildings.

Ludwig Kutlina:

When I was growing up in Niagara Falls, never once did I ever hear anyone say, "I want to work in a downtown hotel after I graduate"........there were tons of factories and industries, real brick and mortar types that sustained families over a 30-year plus time span, until the head of the household retired. Kids were sent to good schools because of these real jobs and often these offspring fared better in the workplace than their hard working parents. But it was these jobs that held longevity and these jobs that increased the standard of living for the children of these workers. When I think of the hotel industry, I surely do not think of Niagara Falls.

Chris Hawley:

Tell me about it! Folks here in Buffalo are cheering for you.

Sam Hoyt:

Cheering for what?

Chris Hawley:

Cheering for this project to be taken off the table at the Council and for the project to move forward.

Sam Hoyt:


John P. Weiksnar:

Heaven forbid anyone suggests that a renowned architect have a say in the aesthetics of this cliche--I mean, hotel. It could, with the right plan and contemporary design elements, become a destination in itself. Back to reality, nothing from the renderings suggests it will contribute one bit to the present or historical value of the site. Wait a minute. Even world-class architecture on that street became disposable, so maybe there's hope. . . .

Frank Scarfone:

If this is such a wonderful project, and Hamister and his group believe in downtown that much to make an investment, then he should be willing to pay at least close to fair market value for the land. If it's worth $1 million, compromise, maybe $500 or $600 k. If that's a deal breaker, then something's not right. Don't forget the PILOT program where they'll get a break on the property tax. This is a slap in the face to every business owner who has paid full price for their property and has to deal with an unfair 2 tier tax system.

Cheryl Caldwell-dutton:

And tax free on their supplies, right?

Ed Gleason:

... Tourism and clean industry are our only legit future; a new hotel is well inside the required infrastructure that serves such a future. Niagara Falls, Ontario has nice distant views of the falls, and a honky-tonk money maker that has zero to do with the falls everywhere else. No, thanks, the intimate experience of the river and the falls available here is our most valuable asset; advertising it as such world-wide will generate interest in coming here. The "thrill ride" of the Cave of the Winds platforms is unique to us, for example. Now if we could limit the Seneca's to just a casino and let the non-Indian rest of the city provide lodging and restaurants, we'd be in the best circumstances that are safe and sustainable.

Dan Davis:

The city of Niagara Falls is its own worst enemy. It is always easy to say we could have done this or we should have done that. Maybe we should have gotten more for the land? Maybe they should have built the Taj Mahal?

The facts are, they put the land up for proposal, they got offers, and they chose a developer -- Maybe there should have been more transparency where the council is concerned, but this is the accepted offer on the table. We don't have someone offering 2 or 3 million or a famous architect -- To play games at this point, just shows the world how ignorant we are!!!

Sam Hoyt:

Dan and Ed- Well said! This project is just the beginning of more great things to come in Niagara Falls. Stay tuned!

Sandy Rung-Meidenbauer:

I still say you are creating short term construction jobs, and then more low paying, non-benefit jobs. I am from the Falls, and have seen it at it's height and watched it's decline. I live in the real world, where my 24 year old niece supplements her full time wages with food stamps. She has no health care. Reality is, if tourism is the only future for the Falls, it's doomed.

Dan Davis:

Personally, I am well aware of the pros and cons of the service industry, but we need to play the hand we have. No one is going to build an industrial facility at 310 Rainbow boulevard, but if Niagara Falls is not a desirable place to raise a family, they may not build it anywhere here.

Frank Scarfone:

Why does Niagara Falls always negotiate from a position of desperation? We have the chew toy, yet we seem to tie a pork chop around our neck to get the dog to play with us. Does the Winter (Holiday) Market ring a bell? Another savior comes to town and Niagara bends over and grabs it's ankles....

Dan Davis:

The city council, including all three members of the majority, voted in February of 2012 to accept Hamister as the project's "preferred developer" following a process coordinated by the state-run USA Niagara Development Corp. That involved a formal request for proposals that yielded seven responses from prospective developers. The selection process involved USA Niagara President Chris Schoepflin, an attorney from the state, and two representatives from the city, including Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson and City Planner Tom DeSantis." Why some would want to characterize this as getting screwed is beyond me.

Sam Archie:

Personally, I don't care if a hotel gets built or not. We have the old historic Hotel Niagara empty and the old Ramada on Buffalo Ave empty. Why is this location so hot? Maybe the price of $100,000 to buy it. Bottom line: all these hotels, and still- what is there to do for family entertainment?



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

Jul 30, 2013