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Cuomo announces agreement on $25.3 million project with Hamister, City of Niagara Falls

by jmaloni

Press release

Thu, Sep 19th 2013 10:40 am

Formerly stalled project to support tourism activity and economic development throughout the region

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo visited Niagara Falls today to announce an agreement on the $25.3 million, mixed-use project proposed by Hamister Development Inc., and to thank the City Council for its support. The City Council recently voted in favor of the project, which is located at a city-owned site at 310 Rainbow Blvd., in downtown Niagara Falls.

"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," Cuomo said. "This project will support new jobs and tax revenue, spurring economic activity for the whole region. With the magnificent falls as our anchor attraction, this significant investment will enhance the visitor experience in Niagara Falls, draw visitors to explore all of what the region has to offer and, in the long run, encourage longer stays, cultivate repeat visitors, and improve the city's image in the global tourism market. This is truly good news for the city, and I applaud the council for acting in the best interests of the community."

"Gov. Cuomo took extraordinary steps to move this project forward," said The Hamister Group Inc. Chairman and CEO Mark E. Hamister. "His direct involvement saved this project and sent a message to Western New Yorkers that he is willing to fight to make Niagara Falls a premier destination. With a strong commitment from Gov. Cuomo, and the commitment of the good people in Niagara Falls, I, too, am committed to bringing this project to a reality."

"The green light for this project signals a new day in economic development for Niagara Falls," said City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. "Thank you to Gov. Cuomo for making this project a priority. Your support of Niagara Falls development is helping to generate a new momentum that will bring positive change to this city."

The Hamister Group will fund the balance of the $25.3 million project. It will be the first non-casino new development of this scale in more than 40 years and, programmatically, will be more than 100,000 square feet. In total, the development will consist of 110 upscale hotel rooms, 24 market-rate residential rental apartments, and up to 8,000 square feet of ground-level retail. The project is estimated to generate between 200 and 300 direct, indirect and induced jobs during construction, and create 70 permanent jobs.

The governor's camp said USA Niagara Development Corp., led by President Christopher J. Schoepflin, was instrumental in negotiating the development agreement, which includes a state grant of $2.75 million.

Once the project agreement is signed in October, the developer can then apply for a franchise agreement, which then enables the design phase. The groundbreaking is expected to take place in the second half of 2014.

Cuomo also congratulated the council members, including Robert A. Anderson Jr., Charles A. Walker and Kristen M. Grandinetti, who voted to support the Hamister project.

State Sen. George Maziarz said, "It has taken a team effort to make the Hamister project happen here in Niagara Falls. Just like last weekend, when it was do or die for the Bills, they didn't give up and fought for a win. 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."

Assemblyman John D. Ceretto said, "Let's shine a light on the Hamister project and recognize that it is a beacon to draw additional development to the falls. Gov. Cuomo identified this as a crucial initial project that is necessary to move the revitalization of Niagara Falls forward. When the governor saw the approval process floundering, he personally took action to save it, proving his commitment to making Niagara Falls a world-class tourist destination."

The Hamister Group, founded in 1977 and based in Buffalo, is a recognized leader in hotel and health care facility development and management. Its hotel holdings include facilities in Pittsburgh, Knoxville and Louisville. It is currently advancing a project in Buffalo to adaptively reuse the Tishman Building on Lafayette Square as a mixed-use office, residential and hotel property featuring a new Hilton Garden Hotel.

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