What will happen to the Hyatt Regency?

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Hyatt and Snyder Corp., which owns the building in which the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Downtown Buffalo is located, are “still working on things” related to the “Hyatt Regency” flag, Visit Buffalo Niagara CEO Patrick Kaler says he was told by a Snyder Corp. official.

On Tuesday, a Hyatt spokesperson announced they were pulling their branding from the facility. Kaler cited a conversation he had later in the day with a Snyder Corp. official.

“They thought it was very premature for this to come out,” Kaler said.

“She said it was very fluid and they’ve been working on it day-by-day,” he added. “They were surprised that the release came out so quickly because they thought they were still working on things and are still working on things.”

A Hyatt spokesperson said Tuesday after a 36 year affiliation with the Buffalo community, they would be pulling their brand effective June 1st. The company is implementing layoffs across its hotel workforce, the spokesperson said.

Snyder Corp. CEO Paul Snyder III has not returned calls requesting comment.

Tony Ogorek, the president and founder of Ogorek Wealth Management, indicated Hyatt’s announcement should not have been surprising.

“In terms of foot traffic, there’s not a lot happening,” Ogorek said. “Also, there has been difficulties with the convention center. We’ve also had a lot of new hotels coming into the area.”

But Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown pointed the finger, at least in part, at the coronavirus pandemic.

“Obviously right now, there is virtually no hospitality business,” Brown said. “People are not traveling. People are not staying in hotels. Convention business has been suspended. So it’s a very difficult time for the travel and convention industry. I think this is partially a casualty of what COVID-19 is doing to the American economy.

In a recent loan property detail report, the group Trepp noted a loan associated with the facility was paid through March 6th, and was 30 days delinquent at the time of the report. It is unclear whether that is still the case.

Operations at the hotel, which is connected to the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center by a walkway over Pearl Street, were suspending April 1st due to the pandemic. It includes 396 rooms. It’s unclear whether the hotel will continue to operate after Hyatt severs ties with the facility.

“Having that property be a branded hotel, with the number of rooms associated with it, is very important to the tourism and economic fabric that we’re talking about because of its close proximity and attachment to the convention center,” Kaler said.

Kaler had already been asking for a chain to come in an operate a hotel in the Statler Building. So it was not welcome news when Hyatt announced it would be pulling its Hyatt Regency flag from another hotel near the convention center.

“To have both the Statler property and the Hyatt would be a necessity for that new larger convention center,” Kaler said, referring to a proposal to build an expanded convention center just north of the Statler.

On Wednesday, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he was still moving ahead with the proposal to develop an expanded convention center. However, plans have been put on hold due to the pandemic.

“My goal was to get out there to raise the money that would be necessary to start building the convention center,” Poloncarz said. “But, of course, with COVID-19, everything else has been put on the back burner.”

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of his work here.

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