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Hearing set on 'boutique hotel' idea

Cheektowaga officials have scheduled a public hearing for Monday on a proposal to build an eight-story "boutique hotel" near Buffalo Niagara International Airport, but area residents remain opposed to the plans, saying the new hotel would "loom over" their homes.

Supervisor James J. Jankowiak, describing the hotel as "a good thing for Cheektowaga," said town officials will keep trying to find "middle ground" between the developer and homeowners, but both sides must make concessions.

"The board is certainly interested in this project. We're not taking it very lightly," Jankowiak said.

"We're going to see if we can come to a middle ground. Everyone gives up a little, that's how you get to the middle ground," he said.

The developer, Manga LLC of Mississauga, Ont., says the proposed $15 million, 149-room Aloft Hotel will be an upscale lodging unlike anything on the local scene.

When the "aloft" concept was introduced two years ago, spokesmen described it as "a radical departure" from traditional hotels, with loft-style rooms, high ceilings, edgy furniture and fixtures, wireless Internet connections, and more.

Jankowiak referred to the company's plans, saying the hotel will not be "run of the mill," but a "landmark hotel" that could help Cheektowaga "explore the tourist trade."

But residents complain that the company's proposed 97-foot-tall building will be out of scale with their homes and with other hotels along Genesee Street in the airport area.

The company has offered to plant trees to help mask the building from the view of Surfside Parkway residents and others, but the top floors of the hotel will still be visible, residents say.

Mike Mason, a leader of the Crandon Drive neighborhood, said they are circulating a petition to reject the eight-story building. And they will also offer town officials copies of a statement prepared earlier this month by John Marriott, of the town Planning Board, which says when buildings are perceived as too tall, they constitute "inhuman-scale architecture" and could hurt other development.


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