Mainstream Media Gets Wise To Smoke And Mirrors Hamister Hotel

While some media outlets still cling to the fantasy that do nothing Buffalo developer Mark Hamister will one day build a boxy, truck stop style hotel on one of the choicest pieces of property in the Niagara Falls tourist district, more are coming to the realization the Reporter reached on the day the project was announced.

That the deal was stillborn, and Hamister lacked both the money and experience to do what he said he was going to do.

Recently, WGRZ reporter Dave McKinley did a report on the troubled history of the non-project, featuring video clips of each time Mayor Paul Dyster, USA Niagara Development Corp. CEO Chris Schoepflin, Empire State Development Corp. representative Sam Hoyt, Congressman Brian Higgins or Gov. Andrew Cuomo made some breathless announcement about an imminent groundbreaking.

The result would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad.

“Mark Hamister is a serious developer with a serious project,” Higgins told WGRZ three years ago.

“We’re looking forward to a groundbreaking we hope sometime in the spring,” Dyster said two-and-a-half years ago.

“A building permit will be issued in late June, then they start in 30 days and we’ll have a shovel in the ground in late July,” he said 10 months ago.

Five months ago, Dyster said that Hamister would have the hotel financing set up “in a couple of weeks.”

Sam Hoyt comes off almost as clueless as Dyster in McKinley’s report.

“You and I will be talking again very soon where we’ll be celebrating that deal finally getting done,” he said three months ago.

McKinley seemed skeptical.

“The state chose Hamister to develop the project more than four years ago,” he told the audience. “However, after several fits and starts which have lead to numerous set backs, the only thing that’s been erected at the site has been a sign announcing the hotel would be ‘coming soon.’”

In a recent interview, Chris Schoepflin said he was optimistic that the project would get underway this year.

“Hamister is reviewing currently, as we understand it, financial proposals from three different lending institutions and we expect him to finalize and close his financing with one of those three in the very near future,” he said.

The statement would probably carry more weight had Schoepflin not said essentially the same thing last year, the year before that, and the year before that.

In the years since the project was first announced, Hamister has downgraded its’ scope, from the resort class Hilton he first announced to a faceless Hyatt Place not dissimilar from a dozen other hotels in the tourist district and on Niagara Falls Boulevard.

At the same time, he has inflated the projected cost of the project, from $22 million to $36 million, and is set to receive more than $7 million from the state under a formula in which he gets one dollar for every nine dollars he claims to have spent.

Successful hotelier Michael DiCienzo has publicly offered to take the project over and build the same hotel for $18 million – half of what Hamister says he needs – and with half the taxpayer subsidies – but thus far his offer has fallen on the deaf ears of what passes for political leadership here in Niagara Falls.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
.wpzoom (color:black;}