ADVERTISEMENT

NIAGARA FALLS – Plans held up over the summer for a $25.3 million downtown development project have taken another step forward.

Officials from the Hamister Group, the state and the City of Niagara Falls signed a development agreement late Friday afternoon.

The move means the developer, which is planning an upscale hotel, apartment and retail complex at 310 Rainbow Blvd., can seek out brands for its hotel, Hamister Group spokeswoman Andrea Czopp said.

In September, Mark E. Hamister said he expected a groundbreaking for the project in the second half of 2014, though on Monday Czopp declined to offer any specific date.

The Hamister Group has previously announced the new hotel will either be a Hilton, Marriott or Intercontinental brand.

The project received approval from the City Council in September, after a decision on the proposal was delayed for two months, causing a heated debate.

Samuel F. Fruscione, one of the Council members who voted to hold up the project, was defeated in both the primary and general elections.

Development plans call for a five-story, mixed-use building with more than 100,000 square feet, including 110 hotel rooms, 24 market-rate apartments and up to 8,000 square feet of ground-level retail space.

A $2.75 million state grant has been awarded for the project.

email: abesecker@buffnews.com