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When A Developer Does Not Get His Way Hysteria Ensues


The over the top media coverage and attack on the Niagara Falls Council Members that have questioned the Hamister hotel project has been amazing to me. The questions being asked seem reasonable to me. The following questions have been raised by Council Members:

– If you or I as an average Joe sought to purchase property from the City of Niagara Falls an appraisal would be done. Hamister is paying $100,000 for a piece of property that some Council Members believe is worth substantially more. Why is requesting an appraisal of the land being sold such a bad idea?

– The proposed development agreement submitted to the Council after 17 months of negotiations has some interesting provisions. The development agreement is not much of an agreement in that it is not binding on any of the parties. The agreement authorizes the Mayor to negotiate a contract with the developer and requires the City Council to give up its rights to approve what the Mayor negotiates or what is amended later. Why would an elected City Councilmember give up their rights provided under the City Charter to approve the actual project agreement? The Niagara Falls Reporter highlighted several issues with the proposed development agreement.

– The Council has asked for financing information from the developer showing that he has the ability to do the project. Not an unreasonable request. When people buy a vacant city owned home in Buffalo they have to show that they have the financial ability to fix the property.

– As the developer will receive a state grant and tax breaks, City Council Members have sought to limit the length of time that tax breaks are provided. Again not an unreasonable request in my opinion.

– Council Members have also asked that as part of the development agreement that local workers be employed on the project. Not unreasonable.

Hamister has called such requests “red herrings” and that he does not renegotiate deals. Essentially It’s Hamister’s way or no way. 99% of the time City Councils rubber stamp what is put before them. I personally find it refreshing that Councilmembers show that they are awake at times and ask questions. For having the gall to actually ask questions over a two month period on a document that took 17 months to be filed, the three Niagara Falls Council Members have been demonized by the Mayor and news media. Channel 2 news reporters have referred to the Councilmembers as “making a “bone headed” decision and a recent Buffalo News editorial refers to them as the “three blind mice” and the “three stooges”.

The hysteria created by the delay and questions raised by Council Members has been incredible to me. God forbid that elected officials have the gall to ask questions and God forbid that a wealthy developer does not get everything he wants.


  • Wrongful Acquittal

    Duh. Nobody had a problem with questions. Flyers and mailings that call the developer (a private citizen) a “con man” (i.e. a criminal) is a problem. It’s slander. It’s defamation of character.

  • PaulWolf

    The Councilmembers were being ripped to shreds long before the con man mailing came out.

    • Ralph Phillips

      Based on Fruscione’s response to Demler’s questions on Ch. 2, I’d say that he shouldn’t throw stones, or let the likes of Steven PIgeon do it for him. It’s fine to ask questions, but what is his alternative to Hamister’s proposal? Niagara Falls shouldn’t turn down a developer who is willing to pitch in $25mil unless there’s another valid deal on the table.

      • PaulWolf

        There were six other responses submitted besides Hamister’s. The Council has asked for information as to what the other proposals were but that information has not been provided. Kind of makes you wonder what the big secret is.

    • Know Saint

      Have you seen the Niagara Falls Reporter, Paul??? These councilmembers have been called HEROS in that paper for blocking the Hamister deal. I haven’t seen them “ripped to shreds.” Just saying.

  • robrobrobislike

    Whatever the mailings said, doesn’t take away from the fact that this real estate deal reeks.

  • Asking questions is one thing. From everything I’ve heard from people who have been involved in politics for a long, long time, this city government is uniquely dysfunctional and corrupt. So much so that it makes any other dysfunctional and corrupt government entity look like Switzerland by comparison.

    The reason why an appraisal is stupid here is that the city got the land for free, because there’s nothing on it whatsoever, and because it is surrounded by squalor, vacancies, and something that looks like it was airlifted from Fordham Road in the Bronx. The Falls are a couple of blocks away, but the culinary institute (which is not promoted in any way on any approach to the city) is directly across the street.

    This is a city that has ceded acres of prime real estate to a NYC-based land speculator who is still patiently waiting to actually do something, and thus leaving acres of prime real estate empty and unattractive.

    Niagara Falls Redevelopment redevelops nothing, and these three clowns sit there and ask nothing. Hamister comes to town (he owns and operates hotels, btw) with a plan and all they have to do is sell him a parcel of land for $100k and they get actual redevelopment.

    Let’s kill that. Clearly, empty lots and vacant haunted wax museums are the highest and best uses for property in and around the neglected flash cube.