Uniland Development Co. has agreed to develop an $11 million Hampton by Hilton hotel at the town-owned Northtown Center in Amherst, The Buffalo News has learned.
The Amherst Town Board on Monday night narrowly approved an agreement with Uniland to act as the developer of the new hotel at Northtown Center.
There are a number of hurdles that must be overcome before the Amherst-based developer would begin construction on the hotel. But the Town Board's approval of a memorandum of understanding with Uniland is a key step in the process.
The developer would construct and own the hotel and make lease payments to the town, which would continue to own the land underneath the hotel, according to the agreement.
The Town Board voted 3-2 to approve the agreement, with Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein and Councilwoman Deborah Bruch Bucki voting no. Weinstein said in an interview Tuesday morning that he opposes building a hotel at the site because he believes it would use up most or all of the excess sanitary sewer capacity, preventing future expansion of the Northtown Center.
He said he also doesn't believe the town would receive enough in rental payments from Uniland.
The payments would be $46,500 per year for the first 25 years, $60,000 per year for the second 25 years and $75,000 per year for the last 25 years, a source familiar with the Uniland proposal told The News.
Deputy Supervisor Steven Sanders said the proposed payments would increase over time and, beside, they are a starting point for the formal lease discussions that still must take place between the town and the developer.
"It's something we're going to negotiate," Sanders said.
Sanders said the hotel makes sense for the town because it would bring in revenue that would help offset the town's costs to operate the Northtown Center.
Uniland spokeswoman Jill Pawlik said the developer was interested in the Northtown Center site because the rink complex draws one million visitors annually, and a mid-scale hotel with a pool, restaurant and banquet facility will only make the center more attractive. She said the proximity to the students, faculty, staff and athletic competitions at the nearby University at Buffalo North Campus also made the site appealing.
"We are excited about this partnership with the town and the Northtown Center," Pawlik said.
The hotel would be built on land along Amherst Manor Road that is now part of the Audubon Recreation Complex. The site is currently filled by a retention pond.
Officials envision a four-story hotel of 105 rooms and 115 parking spots.
The agreement for the first time discloses Uniland's identity as the preferred developer for the Northtown Center hotel project. The Buffalo News had previously reported that Uniland was the only company that submitted a proposal to build a hotel at the Northtown Center, but the town and the developer had declined to comment.
The memo states the parties will move forward with development of a hotel on the condition that the 3-acre parcel is rezoned and that the parcel's parkland designation is shifted to another site in the town. Amherst has begun that process, which is known as alienation.
Pawlik confirmed Uniland already had an exclusive agreement in place to bring a hotel to its University Corporate Center office park, off Maple Road, under the same brand that now is set to open at the Northtown Center. Pawlik declined to identify the hotel brand, but two sources familiar with the agreement said it is a Hampton by Hilton.
Pawlik said the hotel would cost $10.8 million to build and take 12 to 18 months to construct once work can begin on the project.
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