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Hamister Still Mum on Financials for Hotel Project

By Frank Parlato

Mark Hamister: Does he have the money?

According to the original hotel proposal presented by Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster to the City Council on July 8th, the Hamister Group will invest $22 million of private capital to build a 114-room upscale hotel with 24 apartments and some retail space on city-owned land in downtown Niagara Falls.

Council approval is required for land sales and development contracts.

To date, the council has not been provided with the financial details of the Hamister package.

"Financial statements are required in any development deal," said Councilman Sam Fruscione.

The original RFP that Hamister was awarded in December 2011, under the auspices of Mayor Dyster and USA Niagara President Chris Schoepflin, required Hamister to "submit sufficient data to evidence that the proposed redevelopment and operation of the site will be successfully accomplished."

The data requested in the RFP included the "amounts, terms and conditions of financing," the "sources and amounts of financing and Hamister's cash investment in the development."

The RFP also required "evidence of financing," meaning "expressions of interest from lenders, letters of credit, and performance bonding capacity."

"It is common sense," said Fruscione. "If you were to buy even a $150,000 house, you would need to show a mortgage commitment letter saying you are approved for the loan."

Since evidence of financial ability was part of the original RFP process that the Hamister Group was required to include in its proposal, the information should be readily available.

But as of press time, on Monday, Sept. 2, the Council still had not been provided with the required proof even though lawmakers requested it more than a month ago.

"We are being told that it may take two weeks or longer to get his financials to us," Fruscione said on Saturday. "He either has or he doesn't have the money. But Mr. Hamister cannot expect to buy this land without showing us he has the money to build the hotel."

We reported in last week’s editions of the Niagara Falls Reporter that some financial experts are questioning whether Hamister has the financing in place to do the hotel project at this time even though he won the RFP process as determined by the Dyster Administration and USA Niagara more than a year and a half ago.



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

SEP 03, 2013