What's being called the largest non-casino development in Niagara Falls in more than 40 years is moving ahead. Governor Andrew Cuomo made the formal official announcement in the Falls Thursday morning.
The $25.3 million mixed-use project on Rainbow Boulevard includes an upscale hotel, as well as apartment and retail space.
Cuomo says he got involved when it appeared developer Mark Hamister's project was going to be derailed by city lawmakers and their challengers during an election year.
"I think Mr. Hamister was being subjected to the political process, which can be highly unpleasant, take it from someone who gets subjected to the political process, and I think it was a little jarring to him as a private sector businessman to now wind up as an issue in a political contest," Cuomo said.
The privately funded development did not require state approval, but Cuomo says he was told the project "became a problem" for the City Council. Before Cuomo intervened, Hamister said he was walking away from the project because, he said, his reputation was too important to him.
"We were afraid that the project was going to come off the rails, which would have really been a tragedy. Senator [George] Maziarz talked to me about it. Assemblyman [John] Ceretto talked to me about it. I looked into it. I then made a few phone calls. I spoke to Mr. Hamister and we got the project back on track," Cuomo said.
A groundbreaking adjacent to Niagara Falls State Park is planned for the second half of 2014.