In what is being hailed as major boost to the development of the Canalside project in downtown, Courtyard by Marriott has agreed to put a 96-room hotel in three floors of the former Gen. Donovan State Office Building.
The hotel will anchor the building's second, third and fourth floors while the Phillips Lytle LLP law firm has agreed to lease the upper four floors. The hotel is scheduled to open in late 2013, just a few weeks before Phillips Lytle moves into the building.
Buffalo Lodging Associates, an affiliate of Benderson Development Co., is bringing the Courtyard by Marriott to one of Canalside's signature buildings. It will be Marriott's first hotel inside the City of Buffalo.
"To have a Marriott flag in downtown Buffalo is big news, no matter how you look at it," said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, Visit Buffalo Niagara president and CEO.
Eric Recoon, Benderson vice president of leasing and development, said pitching Marriott officials on opening the downtown Buffalo was an easy sell.
"Our level of excitement about Canalside rubbed off on them," Recoon said. "This represents significant additional private sector investment dollars into Canalside on top of what we are already investing."
Canalside, last summer, attracted more than 400,000 people including those who came for concerts, free yoga classes or just walking along its wooden boardwalk, according to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., who is overseeing the development of the 20-acre Canalside footprint. More than 300 events are planned for this summer.
The eight-story, 165,000-square-foot Donovan Building - located on Main Street across from the former Memorial Auditorium site and across Washington Street from the Buffalo News - will be nearly fully leased with the hotel and Phillips Lytle's offices as major tenants. Recoon said talks are underway with bringing a restaurant to the building's first floor. Negotiations are also underway for other areas in the building's first floor.
"The significance of this deal isn't necessarily about a hotel or law firm," Recoon said. "This is about Canalside and it is finally coming out of the ground."
Besides the Donovan project, crews will be building replica Erie Canal waterways through portions of Canalside this summer and the Liberty Hound restaurant inside the Buffalo Naval & Servicemen's Park is due to open this spring.
In all, more than $75 million worth of construction projects will be underway inside the Canalside footprint this year.