NIAGARA FALLS - A Buffalo developer who plans to build a hotel near Niagara Falls State Park affirmed his commitment to the project Monday after a state senator suggested that the land could be used for other purposes.
Daniel M. Hamister of the Hamister Group said that plans to build a boutique hotel on prime downtown land near the falls are "alive and well" and that the company is finalizing a development agreement with the state while it designs the hotel.
"We remain committed to this project and look forward to continued positive working relationships with the USA Niagara and the City of Niagara Falls," Hamister, senior vice president of business development, said in a statement.
The affirmation comes one week after State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, said he suspected that negotiations on the development deal were stalled. The senator told the Niagara Falls Reporter that the site could instead be "perfect" as a location for a temporary Nik Wallenda exhibit.
Maziarz's political opponents sought to pounce on those comments. Johnny G. Destino, who faces Maziarz in Thursday's Republican primary, called the statement "careless."
"That's a big project in downtown Niagara Falls, and you have a state senator intervening," Destino said. "You don't want to do anything to jeopardize it."
But Maziarz told The Buffalo News on Monday that he was suggesting only that Wallenda could place his exhibit on the site temporarily - before the hotel is scheduled to be completed in 2014 - or if the hotel deal falls through altogether.
"If Mark Hamister is going to build a hotel there, I am fully supportive of the project on that site," Maziarz said. "It was just speculation if it wasn't going to happen next year. If the Hamister thing is not going to go in until 2014, it would be a site to consider, if it meets certain criteria Nik needs."
City and state officials see the $22 million hotel, residential and retail project as the first major downtown development - outside of the Seneca Niagara Casino - in a generation. A five- to seven-story boutique hotel would stand 300 feet from the entrance to Niagara Falls State Park.
Meanwhile, Wallenda seeks to build on the momentum from his June wire-walk across the falls by finding a site near the falls - either on the U.S. or the Canadian side - for a circuslike show. If it draws enough tourists, he has said, it could lead to a more permanent attraction.