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Whirlpool Jet Boat buys house, gets 'elbow room'

More expansion is in the offing for Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours, which has purchased a house built in the 1830s that most recently served as a spa for the Barton Hill Hotel.

The foreclosed property at 65 Center St. was sold in an auction Jan. 5 to Peter Sinclair of the City of Tonawanda, who reached terms with Whirlpool Jet Boat on Jan. 13.

Last week, Whirlpool Jet Boat got the Village of Lewiston's go-ahead for a $1 million expansion next to Water Street Landing Restaurant, which it also owns.

John Kinney, president and owner of Whirlpool Jet Boat, said he was not "spreading his wings" and had no immediate plans for the latest acquisition, which provides more parking and gives the business "elbow room."

"I'm confident in the next 10 to 15 years it will prove a wise investment," Kinney said. Kinney confirmed that the sale was completed Jan. 13, prior to the board's approval of his expansion.

Mayor Terry Collesano said his board was unaware of the purchase but denies it would have changed its vote.

"I have no qualms over it," the mayor said. "[Kinney has ] been a good neighbor, and I'm sure he will be a good neighbor in this property."

One of the losing bidders in the auction, Jerry Williams, a Niagara Falls business owner and resident of Lewiston's waterfront, is a vocal opponent of the business and has launched a suit to stop the expansion in State Supreme Court.

Had he won, he said, he would have posted a huge sign reading, "Jet Boat Sucks" across the street from the attraction.

Kinney said the property was purchased from Tranzon Auctioneers for $272,000 in the name of Whirlpool Jet Boat and closed with Sinclair in a private deal. Kinney said Sinclair made a "bit of a profit" in "flipping the property" to him, but he would not disclose what Whirlpool Jet Boat paid in the deal.

Kinney also denied the deal was made before the auction and noted Whirlpool Jet Boat was not a registered bidder.

"I did attend the auction. I was the interested neighbor next-door," Kinney said. "But I had heard some pretty lofty numbers, that this property was going to go for $350,000, $400,000. After it went for $272,000 I felt that was a price of appropriate value for the property."

Kinney said said he exchanged business cards with Sinclair after the auction.

He also said because Williams was a bidder, the auction was of "significant interest to me."

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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