Lord Amherst makeover set to begin

April 2, 2014 Updated Apr 2, 2014 at 9:12 AM EDT

By James Fink, Buffalo Business First

...

Lord Amherst makeover set to begin

April 2, 2014 Updated Apr 2, 2014 at 9:12 AM EDT

Iskalo Development Corp. will be closing the doors on the venerable Lord Amherst hotel to make way for a complete renovation of the landmark.

The Lord Amherst, located on Main Street in Snyder, will serve its last guest on April 14 before closing down for what is anticipated to be one year as Iskalo guts and renovates the hotel. It will be rebranded into an independent, boutique hotel when it re-opens in spring 2015.

As part of the renovation, occupancy will drop to 88 rooms from 95 rooms. David Chiazza, Iskalo executive vice president, part of the reason the hotel is dropping its room total seven is to make way for various renovations including adding elevator service, building a second floor dining room and expanding the lobby. Chiazza said the hotel only had some "modest bookings" for beyond the April 14 date and arrangements have been made for those bookings.

The Lord Amherst renovation is part of a plan by Iskalo to development a hospitality campus on the Main Street property that overlooks the Youngmann (I-290) Memorial Highway. A 137-room Hyatt Place Hotel is currently under construction and expected to open in January, a few months before the revamped Lord Amherst re-opens.

A restaurant, where the former Sonoma Grille operated, is also planned.

"The Lord Amherst, with its 'Colonial Revival' architecture, has been a fixture on Main Street for more than five decades and is long overdue for reinvestment," said Paul Iskalo, Iskalo president and CEO. "Our goal is not just to restore the hotel to its original grandeur, but also to modernize it by adding the features and amenities that today's discriminating traveler expects."

While the Hyatt Place Hotel construction is underway and the Lord Amherst renovations are poised to begin, Chiazza said Iskalo has begun fielding calls from restaurant operators about taking over the Sonoma Grille portion of the building, which is connected to the Lord Amherst. The Sonoma Grille had been run by Michael Militello, but he closed the restaurant last summer in anticipation of the construction. The Sonoma Grille property is also being renovated.

"There has been a lot of interest," Chiazza said. "And, not just from local operators. We've heard from national and regional chains. We are casting a wide net," he said.

The chief selling points are the property's location where Main Street and the I-290 meet and also the lure of being in a hospitality campus with 225 new hotel rooms.

"Just the location is a powerful enough draw and then you add all the hotel rooms," Chiazza said.

Chiazza said he hopes to have the restaurant operator identified later this year and have it open for business in 2015 when the Hyatt Place and rebranded Lord Amherst open.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.