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Developer Doug Jemal buying the closed Hyatt Regency hotel

The former Hyatt Regency Buffalo

Washington, DC developer Douglas Jemal said he is about 90 days away from adding the closed Hyatt Regency to his downtown Buffalo trophy collection.

The hotel is in bankruptcy and closed. Hyatt pulled the franchise and no longer allows the use of the chain's name.

Jemal already owns two DC hotels and knows the business. He said an open Hyatt -- under whatever name -- is important to downtown.

"Because I see potential and it happens to be extremely important for the well-being of the city and the Convention Center and Niagara Square. A very important piece of property," he said. "I'm very confident in Buffalo. You have a great city and a great community.

The developer said he is up to speed on the long debate over a new Convention Center and where it would be. There is an overhead bridge connecting the current center and the hotel.

He knows the hotel business is currently in the dumpster, but eventually people will want to travel.

"We all know what the economy is like right now. It's shut down. But I happen to believe the economy will come back, just like it did the Spanish Flu in 1918," Jemal said. "It ended in 1920 and we had the Roaring Twenties. And I'm looking forward to the Roaring Twenty-Ones."

He also knows buying the hotel, putting the building into the shape he wants and re-opening will take time.

"I never looked at it as a short-term business. It's a long-term business. Real estate and developing something doesn't happen in one day, two days or a short period of time. Creating something great doesn't happen quick," he said.

Jemal said there is some possible synergy between the hotel and the Seneca One tower he also owns, since the Metro Rail connects the two.

There are 50 people now living in the renovated bank tower and more coming. The former Buffalo Police Headquarters is under heavy demolition to be turned into housing and the outside of the Statler Tower shows money being spent: two more Jemal projects. He also bought a house here, because he is expecting to spend a lot of time in this area.

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.
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