Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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November 12, 2012

Under renovation, Hotel Niagara briefly opens doors for visit

Under renovation, Hotel Niagara briefly opens doors for local group

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Stinson bought the property in summer 2011 from Vancouver hotelier Jamal Kara, who'd bought it from foreclosure auction earlier in the year.

The Hamilton, Ont.-based Stinson said he's hoping to have the hotel open in summer 2013, he told the tour group Monday. He said he just completed his financing requests, a portion of the process he said took longer than he'd expected. Focus has shifted to selecting the numerous contractors for both restoration work and new construction, he added.

"The big test will really be from January to May next year," he said. "When you have a small project, it's easier to finance it yourself. And when you have a big, massive project, the Wall Street people are jumping at the chance to help. This is halfway in between."

Once the hotel is ready to open, Stinson said he's expecting to employ between 150 and 200 people.

As part of the tour, which included a trip to the roof despite inclement weather, Stinson ran through a brief description of his plans for the building. He said the roughly $26 million project will enlarge and modernize the rooms, turning them into fully-functional living spaces. As they're enlarged, he'll cut down the number from 193 to 160, which will include two honeymoon suites on the roof, complete with terraces.

For the most part, the historic renovation of the property will focus on the first three floors, which will be public space. The ballroom, restaurants – there will be two, he said – and lobby will be built to meet historic specifications, which Stinson is currently researching so he knows what to do.

In fact, he said there's virtually nothing in the public sphere detailing the way the hotel looked in its heyday. He petitioned those on the tour for historic photos they may have showing off the building's interior.

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