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Planning Board approves design for Niagara Falls Boulevard hotel in Town of Tonawanda

The Town of Tonawanda is getting its first new hotel in at least two decades after a more than two-year rift between the developer and nearby residents was resolved.

The 84-room Holiday Inn Express to be built along Niagara Falls Boulevard, between Forbes and Thistle avenues, will stand at three floors and just under 50 feet tall to the top of its sloped roof, according to design plans unanimously approved Wednesday night by the town Planning Board.

Plans originally called for four floors reaching a height of 62 feet, which became a point of contention for residents of the adjacent Parkview neighborhood who feared a loss of privacy. But the developer, Chan Patel, recently received approval from the franchisor, InterContinental Hotels Group, for a three-story hotel that is 29 feet tall to the top of the third-floor window, said attorney Sean W. Hopkins, who represents Patel.

“It really is a significant reduction in terms of the occupied portion of the hotel,” Hopkins told the Planning Board. Architects were able to expand the hotel’s footprint to the south to keep the required number of rooms.

Residents said they were still concerned about a 50-foot structure looming over their backyards, but were pleased overall with the revisions to the site plans, which also include a row of tall trees and a 6-foot-high fence between their backyards and the hotel.

“We essentially got the most important thing to us and that’s that we haven’t lost privacy, at least not to the degree it would have been,” Dexter Terrace resident Julie Feldman told The Buffalo News after the Planning Board’s vote.

Residents, however, were unhappy that the approved plans still include a planned entrance and exit for vehicles on Forbes, which they fear will bring more traffic west into their neighborhood.

Hopkins explained that the state Department of Transportation would not approve two curb cuts on the boulevard and that the town fire inspector wants emergency vehicles to have access to the rear of the building via Forbes. A sign instructing hotel guests not to turn left onto Forbes will be installed, Hopkins said.

“We will do everything we can to discourage that, but I think we are stuck with this in terms of access,” he told the board. Patel also agreed to install stamped concrete at the Forbes entrance to deter motorists from using that exit and encourage them to use the boulevard exit instead.

Residents also expressed concern about the placement of the dumpster, which will be in the southwest corner of the parking lot. Patel agreed to a condition set by the Planning Board that the dumpster be emptied only after 9 a.m.

The developer now will seek a building permit, Hopkins said, with construction on the $8 million to $10 million project to begin as soon as possible.

The four parcels at 2382-2424 Niagara Falls Blvd. have been deteriorating for years and currently contain three vacant homes, a vacant motel and wildlife.

“We’re pleased with the outcome,” Hopkins said after the vote. “We look forward to finally moving forward with this exciting redevelopment project.”

email: jpopiolkowski@buffnews.com