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Falls planners OK $10 million hotel project

NIAGARA FALLS – A $10 million downtown hotel cleared one of its last remaining hurdles Wednesday night.

A proposal to build a four-story, 110-room Wingate by Wyndham Hotel at Rainbow Boulevard and Fourth Street got the go-ahead from the city Planning Board, which voted 7-0 to approve a site plan for the project.

It is being developed by Plati Niagara, a holding company formed by Antonio, Frank and Anthony Strangio, the family that owns Antonio’s Banquet & Conference Center and a Quality Inn at 7708 Niagara Falls Blvd.

The timetable for the project pegs groundbreaking for later this year. The next step is to put out bids for the construction work, Frank Strangio said.

The project is expected to create 25 to 30 full-time jobs.

As they did when the developers sought a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals last month, some neighbors turned out with questions about the project, primarily buffers with neighboring property, landscaping and lighting.

In addition to the hotel portion, the project also calls for nearly 4,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, which Strangio said is slated to include at least a restaurant.

Earlier this month, the City Council approved a measure allowing the hotel to encroach about 10 feet onto the public right of way on the Fourth Street side of the building with a cantilever or canopy.

That side of the building will be the main entrance to the hotel, where there will be a vehicle drop-off point for guests.

The proposal to allow the encroachment was previously endorsed by the Planning Board.

The developer still needs building permits before the project can break ground.

In May, the Zoning Board granted a variance that allowed the project to have 110 parking spaces, more than the 68 permitted under city zoning codes.

The project also has been granted a 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement that carries an estimated savings of $1.5 million in mortgage recording tax and sales tax.

Plati Niagara has hired Optima Design & Engineering and Silvestri Architects for the project.

Also on Wednesday, the Planning Board recommended to the City Council that it transfer a parcel at 310 Rainbow Blvd. to the Hamister Group, which is planning a five-story, mixed-use development to include a 100-room hotel, 24 apartments and up to 8,000 square feet of ground-level retail space.

Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson told the board there will be a clause in the development agreement, which is still being negotiated, that will revert the land back to the city’s control if the project does not proceed as agreed.