Hotels raising profile of Main Street, heightening worries

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A high profile tract of property in Amherst is getting a new look: a five-story hotel under construction and an older hotel getting a makeover. But neighbors still have some unfinished business with the developer.

After a hard-fought court battle, Iskalo Development got the go-ahead for a new Hyatt Place Hotel, and on that same property on Main Street, they are converting the 52-year-old Lord Amherst Hotel to a “boutique” style facility for visitors.

The two hotels sit along one of the busiest streets in Upstate New York, and the new Hyatt Place Hotel is easily seen by drivers from the Youngmann Highway.

This year’s brutal winter slowed down construction a bit, but Iskalo executive vice president David Chiazza says workers are keeping the 137-room hotel on course.

“Work is picking up, picking up now, and we are hoping to complete the project in the early part of 2015, February perhaps,” he said.

Just a few yards away, Iskalo Development is closing the older Lord Amherst Hotel in two weeks, to give the 52-year-old inn a complete makeover.

Chiazza says they are converting the 95-room facility into an 88-room boutique hotel, complete with the re-modeling and re-branding of the former Sonoma Grill.

“The two hotels will complement each other,” says Chiazza. “Hyatt is a great flag, a great brand. The Lord Amherst will be re-branded, we will have a new name for it, but we will continue to operate it independently.”

Many of the hotels’ neighbors are still agitated over the development’s incursion into their little piece of suburban serenity, after Iskalo turned back an attempt to stop the project in court.

“It has really taken the heart out of this whole neighborhood,” says Dianne Mania of Livingston Parkway. “We are a city in the country, in a sense, because we’ve got the field behind us that is going to be destroyed.”

Dianne and her husband Dan say crews have already started clearing a path along the back of their property and neighbors’ properties for a sewer line feeding into an older line.

Dan thinks that could lead to serious sewer trouble.

“We are basically tripling the load on a 60-year-old line, so it is going to happen,” he said.

Iskalo officials say they would like to be a good neighbor, and are talking with homeowners along Livingston and Lakewood Parkways, behind the hotels.

The sewer question, though seems to be a lot tougher issue to resolve.

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