BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - A Renaissance is occurring in downtown Buffalo, where old landmarks are re-opening as new hotels, and multiple projects are in the pipeline.
It seems like almost every week someone announces plans for a mixed-use project that includes a downtown hotel.
On Wednesday, it it was Mark Hamister, announcing his plan to invest $40 million to turn the Tishman Building on Lafayette Square into offices for the Hamister Group, but also a Hilton Garden Inn with 123 rooms.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "This is great news for development in downtown Buffalo."
The Hilton Garden Inn will be right across Lafayette Square from the Hotel Lafayette, which just reopened with 57 luxury rooms. Down at the Inner Harbor, the old Donovan Building is being turned into a Courtyard by Marriott with almost a hundred more hotel rooms to open next year. Right across that will be Terry Pegula's project on the Webster Block, which will build 200 more hotel rooms that will open in three years. Not to mention the ongoing renovations at Statler City.
Does downtown need all these hotel rooms?
Visit Buffalo Niagara Vice President Ed Healy said, "We've been seeing tremendous visitation from the Canadian market. We know that the number of domestic travelers is increasing significantly as well. We've been seeing a real rise in hotel occupancy, hotel rate, bed tax collected in recent years, so all the marketers are very, very impressive and moving upward."
There are already about 2,000 hotel rooms in the downtown area, and these projects will increase that by about 20 percent. But it's being led by local businessman who seem to know what they're doing. Mark Hamister hired what he called the "Cadillac of Independent Market Consultants."
"We brought them in and they were extremely bullish, matter of fact they were more bullish than we were about not only current, but about what's happening in the City of Buffalo to grow that demand," Hamister said.
Police say they had the wrong man, and that Jerome Thagard, who spent four years in prison, didn't murder Steven Northrup in 2009. But the victim's family says otherwise.
A Good Samaritan died Wednesday while trying to assist the driver of a tractor trailer who got stuck in the snow.
A 26-year-old male employee of Ying's Wings and Things told police that Haibo Jiang, also known as Jimmy Ying, choked him until he passed out.
It was so treacherous in North Collins, the mayor had to issue a travel ban, and village snow plows were pulled off the roadways to keep drivers from trying to plow in zero visibility.
The Buffalo School Board unanimously approved plans to transform Burgard High School into a Manufacturing Magnet School on Wednesday,
Investigators are making progress in the case of a Chihuahua thrown in a ditch while zipped up in a Coors Light thermal bag.