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Only 1 builder submitted proposal to build Northtown Center hotel, it appears

It appears that just one company submitted a proposal to build a hotel next to Amherst's Northtown Center ice rink complex.

Developers interested in taking part in the project had until Friday to reply to the town's request for proposals, and though town officials are not yet saying who responded, The Buffalo News confirmed that just three companies expressed initial interest: Ellicott Development, The Hamister Group and Uniland Development Co.

But Hamister Group and Ellicott Development did not submit proposals, company representatives said.

That leaves Uniland Development, with company spokeswoman Jill Pawlik declining a request for comment and town officials saying they wouldn't reveal the name, or number, of any companies that responded.

"We're not going to do that at this time," said Mary-Diana Pouli, executive director of the Youth and Recreation Department, which oversees the Northtown Center.

This leaves open the question of whether the town will move forward with the apparent single proposal or reopen the process to try to attract additional responses later.

"We're out to make sure that we get the best deal for the town, and therefore do not want to discuss what was received," said Steven D. Sanders, the deputy town supervisor.

Amherst is seeking plans from developers for a hotel on 3 acres of land next to the town-owned Northtown Center, along Amherst Manor Road. Town officials said a hotel on site would bring in additional revenue, through a land lease, and help alleviate the current parking squeeze.

The proposed hotel would be within a few hundred feet of the existing ice rinks and an even shorter distance from the town's proposed expansion, which would add a fifth rink and connect to the existing complex through a covered walkway. The developer would own the hotel and pay a fixed amount to the town each year, town officials previously told The News.

The town is looking for a "nationally branded, mid-scale, limited-service" hotel of at least 100 to 150 rooms, but warns developers the property needs its designation as parkland removed by an act of state government and it needs rezoning by the Town Board.

William Paladino, Ellicott Development's CEO, said the company already has developed a nearby Staybridge Suites Buffalo-Amherst and is beginning work on another hotel on Rensch Road, both like the Northtown Center near the University at Buffalo North Campus. "We will have our two sites on the other side of UB and cater to a different crowd," Paladino said.

A committee of employees from the town's recreation, planning, engineering, purchasing and legal departments will review the proposals and make a recommendation. They plan to conduct interviews next month and identify their preferred developer in late March or April, according to the request for proposals document.

Town Engineer Jeffrey Burroughs, whose department oversaw the request for proposals process, said Friday's deadline is only the first step in the process of selecting a developer for the hotel.

"There's a long road ahead of us in this particular project," Burroughs said.

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