The Hamister Group's purchase of the Ramada Hotel on Fourth Street in Jamestown is the best possible scenario to save the building.
The downtown property has changed hands several times in recent years. Well-meaning proprietors ran the hotel profitably for a time, but eventually a lack of investment and lack of resources combined to leave the formerly great hotel in need of a massive facelift. No one knew exactly what to expect when the State Bank of Texas foreclosed on the property, and its prospects were similarly dim when it was announced the bank would host an online auction in an attempt to recoup its costs.
The city faced the very likely possibility of never again having a full service hotel and conference center downtown if the Ramada closed its doors. Closing the hotel also raised the very possible, and scary, specter of another vacant eyesore in the heart of downtown. That wouldn't exactly have been the message of a city that wants to be a viable destination for tourists. Not having the rooms downtown also would remove the city from consideration for events like the World Junior Hockey pre-tournament games or regional figure skating championships, both of which have been hosted in Jamestown in the past and neither of which can return until the city has enough hotel rooms.
A bidder with deep pockets and the wherewithal to forego early earnings were needed with no guarantees such an investor would ever surface. Thankfully for downtown, a connection was made with the Hamister Group, a company which is in the midst of a $40 million rehabilitation of the Tishman Building in downtown Buffalo and a $25 million, 114-room upscale hotel and market-rate apartment building in Niagara Falls.
As a community, we can only hope the relationship with the Hamister Group works out as well as its relationship with the Williams Group, the company that started its work in Jamestown with the Cherry Street Parking Ramp and then moved on to rehabilitate the Wellman Building. There is much work to be done here - and that means there is money to be made by those willing to invest.
Rome wasn't built in a day - and neither will the ideal downtown Jamestown. The proposed investment by the Hamister Group, however, is a sign we are on the right track.