NIAGARA FALLS – A Nov. 15 agreement among the city, state and the Hamister Group for a $25.3 million downtown development project has yet to be made public, but the developer has already begun “due diligence” work on the project.
The signed agreement, which officials said is nearly 100 pages, will also include some “technical” appendices which are still being finalized. The parties have agreed to finalize those appendices by Dec. 15, city Corporation Counsel Craig H. Johnson told lawmakers this week.
The parties are also creating a much more concise list of milestones that specifies the responsibilities and deadlines of the city, state and developer, Mayor Paul A. Dyster said.
“Trying to reduce it to a one- or two-page schedule that everybody can agree is an accurate representation of all the complexity of a 100-page document, it takes a long time,” Dyster said.
The mayor said those “technical” appendices include the outline of the parties’ requirements.
Signing the agreement allowed the Hamister Group to begin moving ahead with some aspects of the project, Dyster said. State officials pledged to provide a copy of the contract to The Buffalo News by last Friday, but that has not yet occurred.
The agreement was the next step in the development of a five-story, mixed-use project – including a hotel, apartments and retail space – at 310 Rainbow Blvd.
Some City Council members blocked approval of the sale of the land over the summer. The issue appeared to play a role in this year’s Council election as incumbent Samuel F. Fruscione, who was one of three members to hold up the agreement, lost his bid for re-election.
According to the mayor, the agreement outlines an initial 60-day “due diligence” period in which the Hamister Group is required to complete tasks such as survey work, environmental review of the site, utility checks and title searches.
Some of the environmental review has already been done, Dyster said.
“All of that kind of real basic due diligence stuff is in the first 60-day period,” the mayor said.
After that, there is a 240-day period when the Hamister Group will face further requirements, including having to finalize financing and its franchise agreement.
Johnson, the city’s top attorney, said the Hamister Group’s need to show that there was a transaction for the land, required in order to apply for things like a franchise, was “one of the things driving” the deal to be signed before some of the paperwork was completed.