How ‘Suite’ It Is

A leader in healthcare and hotel management, with more than 36 years of history and a record of business success, has purchased the Ramada Jamestown Hotel.

On Friday, Hamister Group Inc. closed the sale on the building following an online auction for the property held in October. Mark Hamister, Hamister Group chairman and chief executive officer, started his first health care company in 1977, according to the company’s website – hamistergroup.com. The company evolved into National Health Care Affiliates Inc. and grew to become one of the largest health care companies in the United States. The business diversified its operations in 2004 with the establishment of a hotel management division. Since that time, the business has become one of the fastest-growing hotel management companies in the nation, as rated by Inc. Magazine.

The purchase of the downtown Jamestown hotel is one of three current projects the Williamsville-headquartered company is undertaking at this time. The business also is undergoing a $40 million rehabilitating of the Tishman Building in downtown Buffalo, which is scheduled to be completed in October 2014. The other company project is in Niagara Falls with plans to break ground on a $25 million, 114-room upscale hotel and market-rate apartments in the second half of 2014.

Hamister Group officials are planning to announce more specific plans for the hotel within 60-90 days, according to a news release on Friday. They also plan to close the Ramada immediately as they will spend several months on plans to re-position the property with a multi-million dollar renovation.

”Owning and operating a hotel in Jamestown fits perfectly into our growth strategy in Western New York. Based on its size, location and space for additional amenities, we feel that this property is a positive investment considering the continued growth throughout our region,” said Daniel M. Hamister, Hamister Group senior vice president of business development. ”We are committed to this project and look forward to positive working relationships with the city of Jamestown and the entire community.”

Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi said Hamister officials have made arrangements for anyone who has already made reservations to stay at the hotel to be a guest at other city hotels this weekend. He said, with what he has been told by company officials, the hotel will be closed for ”a better part of a year.”

”They have plans to completely redevelop the property. They indicated to us it will be a substantial renovation,” he said. ”With the plans they have share with us, it appears they are looking at a top-to-bottom redo. It will take a lot of money and it will take time to do.”

Teresi said city officials are absolutely thrilled the Hamister Group won the auction for the property. He said city residents couldn’t have asked for a better developer to acquire the property and to invest money into the hotel.

”They have a tremendous track record. They are power players in the hotel business,” he said. ”We know their track record, and we know they have good intentions and significant plans for it.”

On Oct. 21, a two-day online auction was held on the website Auction.com for the 145-room, full-service hotel located on 1.41 acres of downtown city property. The eight-store hotel, located at 150 W. Fourth St., was built in 1979. Teresi said the Bank of Texas put the property up for auction. He said bank officials worked with city officials to find developers willing to invest in the property. During this time period, Vince DeJoy, city development director, suggested to Teresi the Hamister Group as a potential buyer.

”To be honest, I told Vince my guess would be this project might be too small of a market for them, but I told him to give it a shot,” Teresi said. ”Vince contacted them and … as a result they wanted to know more about what was going on in Jamestown.”

Teresi said the Hamisters visited Jamestown to see local attractions. Following the visit, the company won the online auction and had purchased the hotel. The mayor said there are no firm numbers on how much the group plans to spend to renovate the hotel, but said it is in the millions.

”It will be one of the largest private-sector investments in downtown Jamestown, if not the largest ever,” Teresi said.

The mayor said local city and county money, and even state money, will be used in funding the renovations, but no exact dollar figures have been announced.

”I anticipate that there will definitely be a role for us to play,” he said. ”As for the role, that is being worked out and determined.

Teresi said a redeveloped downtown hotel is good news for all downtown businesses and city residents. He said with a full-service hotel and conference center, it means potentially more events at the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena and more downtown development like the discussed comedy museum.

”This is huge for the downtown,” he said.