BUFFALO, N.Y. -- There are quite a few major development projects in Downtown Buffalo, and most of them involve new hotels. Some question if the city can handle such a dramatic increase in the number of rooms.
Developers, city leaders and tourism experts all say the answer is yes; there is actually a current shortage in hotel rooms.
There are at least four major hotel projects underway right now.
The Tishman Building at Lafayette Square will become a Hilton Garden Inn, with 123 new hotel rooms. It's part of a $41 million project.
The former Donovan Office Building at Canalside is being turned into a Courtyard by Marriott. The $30 million project includes 96 new hotel rooms.
Nearby, the Sabres' HARBORcenter complex is a $175 million investment that will include 200 additional hotel rooms.
And Carl Paladino will spend $75 million on his project called "The Carlo" at the waterfront. The hotel portion has 138 rooms.
Add them up, and Downtown will have 557 new hotel rooms from these projects alone, and that doesn't even include what may be included in the HSBC Tower.
Developer Rocco Termini, who owns the successful Hotel @ the Lafayette, said he believes there is plenty of demand for these new hotels to be close to capacity.
"Buffalo was a 'B' city," Termini said. "We're starting to move into the 'A' category, and all 'A' cities have a lot of first class hotel rooms downtown."
The projects will go online at various times over the next couple of years. The Courtyard by Marriott will open up first, later this year.
Visit Buffalo Niagara said our current occupancy rate is 66.4%, which is well above the 51% national average.
"If we all believe that tourism is a growth industry, and we certainly do, Buffalo Niagara needs additional hotel rooms now and in the future," said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, President of Visit Buffalo Niagara.
She noted that it is critical to invest in tourism in order to take advantage of the opportunities the new hotels afford.