By James Fink, originally published in Buffalo Business First on Feb 26, 2015.

OTB picks Baynes, Frey and McNamara to build Batavia Downs hotel

Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. has turned to a trio of prominent Buffalo business leaders to develop a hotel that will be part of the Batavia Downs complex.

The Western Regional OTB directors, Thursday morning, agreed to sell nearly one acre of land adjacent to Batavia Downs to ADK Hospitality LLC, which in turn will develop the hotel on the property. ADK is paying Western Regional OTB $605,000 for the vacant parcel.

ADK has pledged to invest approximately $7 million to build the hotel, which will have between 80 and 100 rooms. Final negotiations will determine whether the hotel has a national affiliation or carries an independent brand name.

ADK’s partners include: Anthony Baynes, chairman, A.J. Baynes Freight Contractors Ltd.; Kent Frey, CEO, Frey Electric Construction Co. Inc. ; and David McNamara, managing partner of Phillips Lytle LLP. Baynes, Frey and McNamara could not be reached for comment.

The deal is part of a continuing effort by the regional OTB to upgrade the Batavia Downs complex. It recently invested more than $28 million expanding and renovating its video lottery terminal gaming and banquet facilities.

Michael Kane, Western Regional OTB CEO, said bringing a hotel to Batavia Downs is an idea that his organization has been considering for the past five years.

“We felt now was the right time to do this,” Kane said. “Having a hotel will help us compete and also makes us a destination for a lot of things.”

Kane noted Seneca Gaming Corp., which operates a trio of casinos in Western New York, has hotels connected to its gaming and entertainment centers in Salamanca and Niagara Falls.

When it opens — perhaps next year — it will be the first new hotel developed in Batavia in several years.

Kane said the hotel will be physically connected to both the Batavia Downs’ gaming center and horse racing track. Many of the hotel rooms will overlook the track.

“In a sense, we are surrounded by casinos with hotels,” Kane said. “Having it climate controlled and weather protected will be a major plus.”

Batavia Downs attracts approximately 1 million patrons annually with the VLT center accounting for, on average, 720,000 of the visitors.

Initial plans call for the five-story hotel to be designed in an art deco motif.

With the hotel, Kane said Batavia Downs can be marketed to out-of-town visitors as both an entertainment and meeting center.

The hotel will be owned and managed by ADK Hospitality, not the regional OTB, Kane said.

“We are not in the hotel business,” he said. “We don’t intend to be. That’s up to ADK.”

Baynes and Frey have worked on several projects together including converting the former Corn Exchange building on S. Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo into the 100 South Building, a mixed-use facility with both commercial and residential tenants.