Lord Amherst Hotel closing for complete makeover - The Buffalo News

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Lord Amherst Hotel closing for complete makeover

The Lord Amherst Hotel in Amherst will close as of April 14 to undergo a yearlong renovation that its developer owner hopes will create an 88-room upscale, boutique hotel that will retain elements of its half-century of history.

Iskalo Development Corp. announced Tuesday that the 5 p.m. closing will allow it to start preparations to begin work on the hotel at 5000 Main St., next to the I-290.

Renovations on the 52-year-old building – including updated infrastructure and amenities – are expected to take about a year. Plans call for it to reopen in the spring of 2015, likely under a new name after a rebranding during the renovation.

“Our renovation plan is extensive and will touch every part of the existing hotel, even its name,” David Chiazza, executive vice president of Iskalo Development, said in a release. “We envision the hotel being attractive to those travelers seeking an upscale and locally authentic hospitality alternative.”

In the meantime, hotel staff are contacting guests who have already booked rooms for April 14 and beyond to notify them of the closure and help them find other options nearby.

The $10 million job, financed by Bank of Castile, is designed to freshen up the building while still maintaining its integrity. The hotel, which has operated continuously since 1962 and under one family’s ownership until 2011, was originally designed by well-known local architect Duane Lyman.

“The Lord Amherst, with its Colonial Revival architecture, has been a fixture on Main Street for more than five decades and is long overdue for reinvestment,” Paul B. Iskalo, president and CEO of the development firm, said in the release. “Our goal is not just to restore the hotel to its original grandeur but also to modernize it by adding the features and amenities that today’s discriminating traveler expects. We believe we can turn it into something special.”

The Lord Amherst project is the second that Iskalo is undertaking on the site that it calls “a hospitality campus,” which it bought three years ago. The property also includes a full-service restaurant building, formerly the Sonoma Grille, and Iskalo is now building a six-story, 137-room Hyatt Place Hotel in the rear of the property.

The $20 million Hyatt “select-service” hotel was opposed by residents of the nearby neighborhood. Residents lobbied town officials to block the project and even filed a lawsuit against it but ultimately lost the effort. Construction work is slated for completion in the first quarter next year.

Iskalo plans to start formal marketing efforts for a restaurant operator in the next few weeks, citing the location at the I-290 exchange with Main Street, as well as the presence of 225 hotel rooms on site.

email: jepstein@buffnews.com

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