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Clayton picks Krog Corp. to develop $26 mil hotel on Frink site

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CLAYTON — The Buffalo-based Krog Corp., in partnership with Hart Hotels, will build a four-story luxury hotel on the waterfront Frink property by spring 2014.

Clayton officials determined Friday afternoon that Krog’s $26 million project better fits their vision for the development of the former brownfield site than a local group’s proposal to build a hotel/condominium.

Describing the unanimous vote as “the most important thing to happen in Clayton” in decades to come, town Supervisor Justin A. Taylor and other local officials said the landscape of Clayton will change for the better.

Projected to have approximately 104 rooms, Krog and Hart Hotels’s “Clayton Harbor Hotel” will include a restaurant/lounge; 275-seat ballroom; business and fitness centers and an indoor pool.

Additionally, the developers will build 10 to 12 townhouses on the east side of Frink.

Officials were told the hotel would create roughly 90 full-time jobs. And over a 10-year period, the hotel is expected to generate over $10 million in additional tax revenues — through payments in lieu of property taxes and extra bed and sales taxes income.

The hotel’s construction alone will cost roughly $22.5 million and take 12 to 14 months to complete, said Krog’s President Paul R. Neureuter. Construction will begin mid-2013.

While the project designs are nearly finalized, the developers still need to decide the color schemes and materials that will be used for the exterior of the hotel.

Mr. Neureuter said Krog and Hart Hotels will have the Clayton community put those finishing touches to their final hotel design.

A preliminary project application presentation will be made to the local Planning Board this month and the public workshop will be held in December or January, he said.

Krog has completed numerous mixed-use development projects in New York communities similar to Clayton, such as the $15 million Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel near Seneca Lake, built through a partnership with Hart Hotels.

In essence, Krog has been given a second chance to purchase the $2.1 million property facing the St. Lawrence River and complete the project in a timely manner.

Just two months ago, Clayton ended its exclusive negotiations between Krog due to a lack of progress and disagreement over the price of the 8.4-acre Frink property.

Officials went back to square one and had been weighing their two options since October.

The other, local proposal by Clayton Associates LP, called for an 89-unit hotel/condominium with a restaurant/lounge, banquet facilities, spa and heated outdoor pool.

It was a grassroots project initiated by a dozen local property owners who were concerned that the Frink development “wasn’t going anywhere.”

But in the end, Clayton’s Local Development Corp. and Town Council decided that Krog and Hart Hotels’s project had more to offer to the tourist-driven community.

Giving its final recommendations Friday, chairman of the Frink Redevelopment Committee, Paul E. Heckmann, said the committee has thoroughly evaluated every key aspect of each proposal and is “confident” that Krog should be selected to develop Frink.

Even town Councilman George E. Kittle, who was strongly in favor of “bagging” Krog in a Sept. 26 special joint meeting, threw his support behind the Clayton Harbor Hotel proposal Friday.

“The decision made today, it was a culmination of many years of planning and hard work that was conducted by professionals,” he said. “No one, at any time, should feel as if they were winners or losers. We are all winners.”

Since purchasing Frink in 2005, the town and development corporation spent years on a multimillion-dollar cleanup project that removed 20,000 tons of contaminated soil from the abandoned snowplow factory site.

After the site was declared “clean and development-ready” by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 2010, Clayton started soliciting and reviewing proposals, conducting market studies and securing grants to aid the future development of the property.

“This is a big day for Clayton,” said village Mayor Norma J. Zimmer Friday. “It is unbelievable what’s going to happen here.”

Along with the hotel’s construction next year, Clayton will be installing up to 56 dock slips for transient boaters between the east side of Frink and Washington Island to attract more visitors to the historical village.

The $2 million project — which is expected to break ground late-summer 2013 — also includes plans for a boaters’ amenity building adjacent to the docks.

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