|By Sharon Linstedt, The Buffalo News,
N.Y.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sep. 15, 2007 - Cheektowaga's growing "hospitality row," along Genesee Street across from Buffalo Niagara International Airport, is getting another player -- an upscale, $15 million "aloft" hotel.
Manga LLC, of Mississauga, Ont., has filed plans with the Town of Cheektowaga for the proposed eight story, 149-room hotel to be built on Burgess Boulevard, just off the 4200 block of Genesee Street. The aloft chain is one of the newest nameplates for Starwood Hotels and Resorts, whose stable of hotels includes: Westin, W, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, St. Regis and Le Meridien.
"It's nice, new and trendy. It will be something brand new to your area," said Manga President Sukhdev Toor.
Toor, whose company owns and operates six hotels in Canada, plus the Holiday Inn in Lockport, said he targeted the Cheektowaga site because of its proximity to the Buffalo airport.
"It's a great location because it is so close to the airport, and there are no boutique hotels there. This will be geared to a 20 to 40 crowd that wants a very modern place to stay," he said.
Starwood unveiled the "aloft" concept in 2005, describing it as "a radical departure" from traditional hotels, with loft-style rooms, featuring high ceilings, edgy furniture and fixtures, wireless Internet connections, MP3 docking stations, flatscreen TVs and oversized showers.
The hotel also will offer guests indoor and outdoor gathering areas that are designed to promote social interaction. The chain calls its workout facilities "re:charge," and its lounges are dubbed "re:fuel."
With room rates ranging from $129 to $179 per night, "aloft" is a less expensive version of Starwood's high-end trendy "W" hotels.
"It's for people who want something more than a typical hotel experience, but it is still affordable," Toor said.
There are currently about 50 "aloft" hotels open or under development in the United States.
Manga, which is building an "aloft" and an extended-stay "element" in downtown Toronto, hopes to break ground at the Cheektowaga site next spring and open the hotel by summer 2009. The developer will require a zoning change and site plan approval, plus approval of the Cheektowaga Town Board, to move ahead with its plans.
Planning Board Chairman Tony Sisti said he was impressed by the plans.
"It's a nice-looking hotel, and it seems to be something a little different. We want them to make some changes to their site plan, but it seems like a good project," Sisti said.
The planning panel is a bit concerned about the building's height, which at eight stories would make it the tallest structure near the airport. The developer has received clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration that the height will not interfere with airport operations.
Manga also needs to finalize purchase of the 3.8-acre site, which is located behind the Hilton Garden Inn and a McDonald's restaurant. The vacant land currently is owned by James Cosentino's Dynamic Hotel Development and Dynamic Operations.
The "aloft" is the fourth new hotel planned for the Genesee Street/Buffalo airport corridor.
Benderson Development Co.'s Buffalo Lodging subsidiary plans to build a Fairfield Inn and a Courtyard by Marriott at 4243 Genesee St., on the site of the idle Park Plaza Buffalo Airport.
That hotel, which started life as the Executive Motor Inn in the early 1960s, becoming the Ramada Renaissance and later the Radisson, is slated for demolition in a few weeks. The new Fairfield and Courtyard will add a combined 250 rooms to Genesee Street.
Developer Carl Paladino has announced plans for a $10 million 100-room hotel just down Genesee Street, next to Calspan Technology Park. While he has not revealed the hotel brand, he has confirmed the site will include a Tim Hortons restaurant and Thrifty Car Rental offices.
When it opens, "aloft" will join the Four Points by Sheraton in Niagara Falls as the only Starwood properties in Western New York.
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