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MAYOR, COUNCIL ACHIEVE UNITY IN EMBRACING HOTEL PROJECT

After a closed-door meeting with Mayor Thomas C. Sullivan, the Common Council on Wednesday told the developer of a proposed hotel that they support his project and would not oppose the tax breaks he is seeking.

"You'll have our support," Council President John T. Pitrello told Pravin Patel, president of Lockport Lodging Group.

The backing of the mayor and the Council was crucial because the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency board was scheduled to vote today on a package of 10-year tax breaks for the $3.9 million project.

IDA Executive Director John R. Simon appeared with Patel and told the aldermen that his policy is not to recommend any project to the IDA board if it does not have the support of the affected municipality's chief elected official.

Sullivan had promised to send a fax to Simon today with the city's verdict. Simon told the mayor, "I'll make that recommendation to the board, whatever you provide me with."

The aldermen expressed confidence that the city could support a fourth hotel, but were reluctant to embrace the tax package that would save Lockport Lodging an estimated $643,000 over 10 years.

"The other hotels didn't go this route," Sullivan said.

But if the IDA assistance were not approved, Patel said, he would not build the hotel in the city.

Simon told the aldermen that the Town of Lockport was interested in luring the project.

The aldermen called a Democratic caucus, which was the same as an executive session because only Democratic aldermen attended the session.

After meeting with Sullivan for about eight minutes, the aldermen emerged and told Patel what he wanted to hear.

Alderman Mark J. Dudkowski, D-3rd Ward, said, "We can use another hotel in this part of Niagara County, and we're glad it's going to be in the City of Lockport instead of an outlying community."

"We're a unanimous group," said Alderman Patrick W. Schrader, D-4th Ward, who had opposed the tax break at an IDA public hearing Tuesday. Twenty-four hours later, Schrader's verdict was, "I guess that's what you have to do to compete in the world today."

The 66-room hotel, a Holiday Inn Express, would open in the spring of 2002.

Patel and his partners own two hotels in Batavia and the new Hampton Inn in Niagara Falls.

Simon hinted that Patel is planning a hotel in North Tonawanda.

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