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OCT 28- NOV 05, 2014

Hamister Project Falls Short of Hype

By Tony Farina

October 28, 2014

This seven-story Hyatt Place Hotel in Pittsburg at 178 rooms is hardly transformational. Yet it has 50 more rooms than Hamister’s proposed, taxpayer subsidized Hyatt Place in Niagara Falls.

It was just a little over a year ago, on Sept. 19, 2013, that Gov. Cuomo, Mayor Dyster, State Sen. George Maziarz, and Assemblyman John Ceretto collectively praised the $25.3 million Hamister hotel project in downtown Niagara Falls shortly after the council finally approved the at-times controversial project on Rainbow Blvd.

“With the approval of the Hamister project, the City of Niagara Falls is taking a major step forward in our ongoing work to revive the local tourism industry and economy,” the governor said at the time, praising the efforts of the state’s USA Niagara for negotiating the agreement for the Hamister hotel.
That deal included a $2.75 million state grant.

Well, here we are more than a year later, and the only thing that has happened so far is that the cost has gone up, from $25. 3 million to $28 million, even though project has been scaled down to a seven-story Hyatt Place, not eight stories, and the two dozen market-rate residential apartments are not in the plans.

Developer Mark Hamister’s taxpayer subsidized hotel keeps getting smaller and smaller.

Maziarz, who is leaving office under the cloud of a federal investigation, said back in September of 2013 “it has taken a team effort to make the Hamister project happen here in Niagara Falls….Gov. Cuomo should be credited with calling the right plays on this important development to get the win for WNY and for the all-important tourism industry.”

Maybe a new team is needed. So far, anyway, the project has not delivered jobs or tourists, has yet to begin construction, and has been scaled back from 128 hotel rooms to 110 that is a far cry from the kind of transformational facility that the proponents trumpeted from the start.

In keeping with their tight-lipped way of doing business, the state’s USA Niagara has nothing to say and Hamister officials have been taking a cue from the state and are unavailable for comment on their revised plans for the property they got for a song from a city hungry for any development downtown.

The project’s latest site plan will be up for review by the city’s Planning Board on Nov. 19. .No firm date yet on when a shovel will hit the ground on this long- awaited project that so far has not delivered on the hype. Since no one will talk about it, not the developer or the state, we’ll just have to wait and see what the final plans look like and whether anything will ever get built at the key downtown site.


Promised originally to be a luxury hotel, then downgraded to a mid-scale Hyatt Place, it is to be built only 300 feet from the Niagara Falls State Park. The highest and best use for this lot is certainly more than a mid scale, 128 room hotel.






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Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina