Hotel development in question

OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy Mayor Willie Rosas discusses a lease that hasn’t been signed yet by Erie Land Development for city property on Lake Shore Drive East between Tim Hortons and the Clarion. Rosas says two separate developers are interested in the property for hotel development.

Hotel development along the Dunkirk waterfront is in limbo as potential developers have yet to sign a lease agreement.

City officials, however, say they’re in contact with two separate developers who have interest in building a hotel at the city-owned site.

During Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, Second Ward Councilman Marty Bamonto asked city officials about the status of the hotel project on Lake Shore Drive East between Tim Hortons and the Clarion. It was the first update publicly in months following council members action in April authorizing the mayor to sign a ground lease to allow Erie Land Development LLC to construct a new Wyndham Hotel.

The agreement set forth timelines that detailed completion of the hotel by late 2019. Mayor Willie Rosas said Tuesday that the city’s still in negotiations with the developers. The city asked for particular timelines to be included. Rosas said they hesitated a bit.

“At this point, our development department received inquiries from other potential developers who are interested in that site for a hotel,” he said. “Until we have a signed agreement in the form of a contract, we are free to pursue other developers.”

As for negotiations with Erie Land Development, the mayor said they will go with them if the attorneys from both sides can work something out.

“That would be my first choice,” Rosas said.

City Attorney Richard Morrisroe said developers from Erie Land Development hired a hotel consultant specialist and are crunching numbers.“They’re trying to move forward as quickly as possible,” he said.

Rebecca Yanus, city development director, told city council members that it’s been a long process. She said they’re keeping their options open in case it doesn’t work out with the current developers.

“It’s a great spot on the waterfront,” she said. “Other developers are very interested.”

A feasibility study conducted a few years ago found the need for another hotel in the city. Rosas said following council’s approval in April that it would complement the neighboring Clarion.

Rosas said following Tuesday’s meeting that the city has a good working relationship with Erie Land Development. The developers are preparing to build luxury apartments down the road near Athenex.

Third Ward Councilman Shaun Heenan said he’s glad the city’s open to other options for the waterfront parcel. Heenan says he’d like to see work initiate within a specific time window if a lease is signed so the property doesn’t sit idle while other opportunities may present themselves.

Details within the lease before council members in April depicted lease payments over 25 years. That was later changed to 50 years, which council later approved. Morrisroe said it was changed for financing purposes.

“That was something that had to happen regardless of whether or not we go with Erie Land Development,” he said.