Built between 1923 – 1926 by noted Buffalo architects Esenwein & Johnson, the Hotel Niagara sitting at 201 Rainbow Blvd overlooking Niagara Falls State park was a glowing symbol of a prosperity for the Cataract City for many years. However as the city began its decline in the later half of the 20th century, the iconic structure like many other hotels in the city, began to fall victim to worsening economic conditions.
Before shuttering its doors in the early 2000s, the once beautifully adorned and elegant building went through a series of economy brands hotel chains including the Days Inn and Travelodge.
In recent years, the hotel’s redevelopment was planned, started, and subsequently halted as its owner at the time, Amidee Hotel & Resorts, fell into financial trouble and thereby allowing the property to be foreclosed upon. Redevelopment hopes seemed bleak for several years before Harry Stinson, an energized developer from Hamilton, Ontario acquired it in 2011 giving it a new lease on life.
After two years of preparation, Harry Stinson and new project director Steve Fitzmaurice, the former CEO and building manager of One Seneca Tower, are ready to begin the renaissance of Niagara’s most storied building.
Preliminary plans indicate a $23.6 million dollar historic restoration/redevelopment into a 3 or 4 diamond mixed use hotel. The team envisions a Hotel Lafayette-esque upscale boutique hotel featuring approximately 150 hotels rooms, three floors of leasable space, and a restaurant/banquet facility among other amenities. Fitzmaurice believes if the project remains on schedule, the hotel could be open by Summer 2015.
The reaffirmation of Hotel Niagara’s future is a positive boost to the city’s downtown core of which is seeing major investment lately partially attributed to the attention from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billions program, Niagara Falls State Parks renovations, and the planned restructuring of the Robert Moses Parkway along the city’s waterfront. In recent years, both regional and local developer interest has been on the rise and several projects are planned including Hamister Group’s Hyatt Place hotel, Uniland’s Wonder Falls Resort, and Craig Avery’s ongoing retail/residential conversions on Third Street.