NIAGARA FALLS – A high-profile $25.3 million downtown development project remains “on track” with its previously announced timetable, the developer told a city panel last week. But it won’t come with any new parking spaces.
The Hamister Group’s plans for an upscale hotel, apartment and retail project at 310 Rainbow Blvd. moved ahead after the Zoning Board of Appeals granted a parking variance already contemplated in the company’s development agreement with the city and state.
The deal approved last year calls for the five-story, mixed-use project to use parking spaces in the city’s Rainbow Centre ramp. City codes require 73 on-site parking spaces based on the project’s 146 hotel rooms. The variance allows the project to have no on-site spaces, as called for in the three-way deal.
Hamister will start with 75 spaces in the ramp and has the right to a maximum of 225 spaces as part of the agreement.
Hamister will pay $3,000 a month, or $40 per month per parking space, for the first five years of the deal. After five years, the payments will increase by 5 percent. The city has the power to adjust the parking fees after the 10th year of the deal. The parking agreement lasts for 20 years, with Hamister having the option for four five-year extensions.
If parking in the city ramp becomes unavailable for any reason, the city must provide alternative parking for Hamister’s hotel, Corporation Counsel Craig H. Johnson said. City codes do not require the developer to create new parking spaces for the apartments or retail space.
In terms of the overall project, the Hamister Group continues to work on finalizing a flag for the hotel, along with other elements of its plans, said Josh Klotzbach, the firm’s director of construction.
“Right now,” Klotzbach said, “we are still on track for our agreement with the city and with USA Niagara,” the state’s economic development agency in Niagara Falls.
Plans for the project must still come before the city’s Planning Board. Construction is tentatively slated to begin Oct. 28, though several contingency periods may be utilized at a few points in the project timeline.
Zoning Board member Vincent Spadorcia cast the only vote against the variance. Spadorcia expressed doubts about the project after the meeting, questioning why there have yet to be shovels in the ground. He also referred to how the project played a role in the defeat of incumbent Samuel F. Fruscione in last year’s City Council race.