|By Jonathan D. Epstein, The Buffalo News,
N.Y.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 18, 2012--The owners of an elite Buffalo boutique hotel are exploring the possibility of building a separate upscale hotel and conference center in the city that would meet a market need that they say isn't currently being filled by existing facilities.
Geno Principe and Dennis Murphy, co-owners of The Mansion on Delaware Avenue, are surveying local businesses and companies within a 200-square-mile area to assess the interest in a new meeting facility. The surveys are due to be finished this week, so the plans are preliminary, Principe said.
Any project would be separate from the 28-room high-end boutique hotel they currently run, which has won awards and recognition nationally for its quality and high level of service, including the AAA Four Diamond Award. The Mansion is also the only hotel in the Buffalo Niagara area to be top-rated by Zagat Survey, and also was named a best value by Frommer's and TripAdvisor.
"We think we do this very well, and we saw a niche not being supplied to our standards, so we're looking to expand," Principe said.
That's good for the region, because if there's a market not being served by the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center and other existing facilities, then that business isn't coming to Buffalo at all now, said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara, the renamed Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau.
"If the new center serves a new niche, that would be adding to the market mix of what we would be able to sell," she said. "VBN markets meeting facilities beyond the convention center. We market the destination itself, so if we get more diversified product that appeals to new audiences it would be a good thing."
Principe said they do not have a location yet.
"We're doing our surveys. We have a good inkling, but nothing we'd care to discuss until we're satisfied with the information we've collected."
Economic development officials were also positive on the idea. "Any project that creates jobs and results in investment in the region, particularly in the city center ... is a good thing for our community," said Paul Pfeiffer, spokesman for the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise.
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