NIAGARA FALLS - The owners of the Wingate by Wyndham hotel in downtown Niagara Falls have acquired the neighboring lot and may build another hotel there.
"We don't have any current project on the agenda," Frank Strangio, co-owner of Plati Niagara, said Wednesday. "Because we have the Wingate, people speculate that that's the direction, but we really don't know the direction."
The first baby step toward development: persuade the city to abandon an alley that cuts through the western half of the block bounded by Third and Fourth streets, Rainbow Boulevard and Buffalo Avenue.
Wednesday's city Planning Board agenda, which called for setting a March 22 public hearing on the matter, included the notation, "Proposal by Plati Niagara Inc. to build a hotel."
Thomas DeSantis, the city's senior planner, acknowledged that might be premature.
"There is no proposal, but this is preliminary," DeSantis said. "They're in the hotel business, and they're doing their thing."
"Anything that we do will require the abandonment of the alley," Strangio said. "When we built the Wingate, we requested that alley to be abandoned between Third and Fourth streets, but because we didn't own the land next to it, that kind of went by the wayside."
Only the eastern portion of the alley was given to Plati Niagara by the city at the time. The alley now ends at the Wingate's parking lot.
Plati Niagara, a Strangio family business, bought the eastern half of the block from Frank Deni of Amherst in 2012 for $1.1 million. That's where the 110-room, $10.2 million Wingate opened in April 2015.
Plati Niagara bought the rest of the block from Deni in December for $809,000, according to Niagara County land records. DeSantis said the property has been vacant since the 1970s. Deni had owned the block since September 1980.
"You can do a much better project with the alley abandoned," Strangio said. "We want to start the process. What and when, we don't know yet."
DeSantis said after the Planning Board acts, the City Council will have the final say on surrendering the alley to Strangio's company.
"We didn't buy the land to let it sit," Strangio said.
The Strangio family also owns the Quality Inn and Antonio's Banquet and Conference Center on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Niagara Falls.