An attorney representing the Clarion Hotel and members of the community voiced concerns regarding the application submitted by ADK Hospitality, LLC, to Genesee County Economic Development Center for incentives to build a hotel at Batavia Downs.
A public hearing was held Monday night by the GCEDC to gain input from the community on the application they received from ADK, a private developer seeking to build a hotel at Batavia Downs, requesting approximately $630,000 in incentives.
Vivek Thiagarajan, attorney representing Clarion owner Chat Patel, argued that when his client looked into applying for GCEDC incentives to build the Palm Island Indoor Waterpark in 2012 he was told the project would be denied funding because it was not considered a tourist destination. Thiagarajan argued that ADK's hotel is not a tourist destination and Batavia Downs should not receive tax incentives either.
"There is no tourist destination about the hotel itself," Thiagarajan said. "Maybe the name makes it look like it's affiliated with Batavia Downs but the hotel is merely just like any other hotel. As a result, the public shouldn't be forced to fund something that only benefits the private owners of that hotel."
Thiagarajan also argued that the purchase price of $600,000 is less than the $630,000 in incentives the project would receive from the GCEDC.
In addition to Thiagarajan's opposition, John Sackett, a past county legislator, questioned whether the hotel would create full-time jobs and believed the hotel should be built without incentives.
A representative from the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters expressed concern over whether Batavia Downs and ADK would use union construction workers to build the hotel. The union agreed it would support the hotel project if union construction workers were used.
A variety of local businesses wrote letters in support of the proposal. The businesses included Sport of Kings Restaurant, Harness Horse Breeders of New York State, Sloat Tire Shop, Genesee Feeds, Nothnagle Realtors, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, WNY Harness Horsemen's Association and U.S. Foods. The businesses stated that Batavia Downs is a primary asset for attracting tourism and the addition of the hotel would bring more people and business to the community.
Anthony Baynes, managing member of ADK, provided details on the hotel project and the economic impact it would have on Genesee County. In the presentation, Baynes stated the $5.5-million hotel will be a four-story structure with 84 rooms. Itl will also be connected to Batavia Downs Gaming and complement the design elements of the new gaming entrance. There will be no restaurant or bar in the hotel.
"The hotel will positively impact Batavia Downs and local tourism on a permanent basis," Baynes said. "It will generate incremental gaming, banquet, food and beverage revenue at Batavia Downs, which will result in increases in tax collection, jobs preserved and additional jobs created."
According to Michael Nolan, vice president of Western Regional Off-Track Betting, the corporation that owns Batavia Downs, the hotel will help the gaming industry expand and allow them to compete with other casinos that are building hotels.
The hotel will result in the creation of 23 jobs. There also will be more job growth due to the number of wedding and conventions Batavia Downs will host because of the hotel.
"We think our banquet facility is going to multiple 10 times due to the hotel," Nolan said. "It's well within reason that there will be 50 jobs coming with the addition of the hotel."
According to statistics provided by Hotel & Leisure Advisors, a national hospitality consultant firm, the total impact of the new gaming revenue, new food and beverage sale and increased banquet business will be $2.6 million for the first year of operation. In the first 10 years of operation, the impact will be $31 million.
The GCEDC Board of Directors is having a special public meeting to consider a final resolution for the project. The meeting will be held at 11:15 a.m. on Thursday at the Innovation Zone Conference Room at MedTech Centre.