|By Nick Mattera, Niagara Gazette, Niagara
Falls, N.Y.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 28, 2011--LEWISTON -- Plans to covert a once shuttered state park in the Town of Lewiston into a regional destination took a step forward Monday as a group of private developers discussed plans to build a hotel and conference center at Joseph Davis State Park.
Representatives from the DiMarco Group, a Rochester-based developer, outlined preliminary plans to build a rustic 48-room hotel and 250-person conference center in the heart of the now town-owned park. The facility would include sweeping vistas of the lower Niagara River and include a man-made stream running through the complex.
"It looks spectacular," Town Board Member Ernest Palmer said of the renderings. Palmer complimented the DiMarco group on their awareness of the other local attractions including the Niagara Wine Trail, Niagara Falls and other regional attractions in their assessment as to why such a facility would work in Lewiston.
Town Supervisor Steve Reiter said the town is forming a corporation, which will include one member nominated by each town board member, to make decisions pertaining to the future of Joseph Davis State Park, including a contract that would allow for a hotel and conference center to be built.
He said the details of the corporation are still being finalized and more information will be presented to the public when they are available.
The cost of the facility could not be estimated, but John DiMarco, president of the DiMarco group confirmed those costs would exceed $1 million. He also plans to bring in a hotel chain to run the hotel operations. According to a presentation given to the town board on Monday, the development group has worked on previous projects with Homewood Suites and Hampton Inn, but DiMarco said he hasn't lined up a hotel chain at this time.
DiMarco cautioned that the plans to build the Lodge and Conference Center at Joseph Davis State Park are still extremely preliminary and town officials would go out to bid with the project before it can move forward.
DiMarco, who has family ties to the Lewiston community, said he approached the town about the project after reading about the takeover of the state park in local newspapers.
"We've been up here quite often as well as visiting the Canadian side," DiMarco said. "I've always wondered what could be done to shore up the U.S side of the falls. So this is an interesting opportunity to get into."
The hotel would include three floors of guest rooms, with outdoor terraces. The company would seek LEED certification on the project and design it to complement the natural surroundings of the state park, said Robert Shepard of Stieglitz Snyder Architecture, a Buffalo-based firm who is working with the DiMarco group on the project.
Reiter said this is another example of the town making projects happen instead of sitting in a room and talking about them.
Other groups have, in recent weeks, approached the town regarding usage of the park.
A state-of-the art fish hatchery and research facility was proposed earlier this month by Bill Hilts Jr., of Niagara County's sportfishing promotion group. The $3 million to $4 million project would be funded through a combination of sources including Niagara River Greenway money.
Late last month, the town heard plans from the Buffalo Audubon Society to construct a state-of-the-art, $5 million nature center in the park. The funding for the project will come from private donations and will allow for the construction of classroom and office space and amphitheater.
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Copyright (c) 2011, Niagara Gazette, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
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