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Reikart House taking shape in shell of old Lord Amherst

Amherst has the University at Buffalo North Campus and the Daemen College campus. Now it has a hotel campus.  Iskalo Development considers its new Hyatt Place Hotel and the newly-named Reikart House a hospitality campus.

The hospitality center is at a highly visible place in the town, where Main Street crosses the I-290. For more than a century, it was the site of the Lord Amherst Hotel and for years the Sonoma Grille.

Iskalo bought the property and built the 137-room Hyatt Place in a locally-controversial project. Monday, it was showing off progress on the Reikart House. It is going up as an upscale, 93-room boutique hotel slated to open in the spring.

President and CEO Paul Iskalo said the hotel rooms are designed to remind people of two Amherst residents of a century ago.
"This project is called Reikart House - and the reason for that is that it is meant to be your guests being welcomed to a lovely home, Frank and Dolly Reikart's home," Iskalo said. "And so our experience we are trying to create here is this warm and inviting great room with a nice and fine fireplace."

The Reikarts were a hospitality center in early 20th-century Amherst, on Main Street near Transit Road, providing everything from photographs of visitors to a barber shop. The barbershop and photo studio are in the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village nearby.

Iskalo gutted most of the old Lord Amherst and built a modern hotel inside the shell, with promises of nice rooms and very good service. A replacement restaurant for the old Sonoma Grille is to open in 2018.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.