Development plans for the redevelopment of a former Joseph Anderson property at First and Old Falls streets are being sought by USA Niagara Development Corp.
Due to the existing building’s condition, its prime downtown location and the local zoning allowance, USAN plans to demolish the marginal, low-slung structures currently on the site.
Totaling 1.829 acres with an appraised value of $4 million, the site was acquired in March 2019 through a strategic land acquisition program as part of the second phase of New York state’s Buffalo Billion initiative. Acquisition of this key parcel was intended to support significant new mixed-use development.
“Located on Old Falls Street, the most heavily trafficked pedestrian route in Western New York, presents an exciting development opportunity,” said USAN President Anthony Vilardo. “We envision redevelopment of the site with a high-density mix of uses and active ground-level retail that would contribute to visitor and resident offerings in downtown Niagara Falls.”
In March 2019, USA Niagara purchased 32 parcels of land from Anderson for $14 million. The parcels, once referred to collectively as the “Anderson properties”, have now been divided into clusters of developmental land, with one of the clusters already being marketed by TM Montante Development.
Not counting the Rainbow Mall, the five parcels to be redeveloped could bring up to $300 million total in investment.
The preliminary strategy for the site at First and Old Falls, as well as a site at Third and Niagara streets, are an 160- to 180-room upscale hotel with multi-purpose event space; multi-family residential with retail or a 330-room conference hotel and 90-room boutique hotel
Also included in the Anderson parcels are:
• Park View: Second Street between Walnut and Main streets. The area adjacent to the newly completed natural area. Preliminary strategy: independent nostalgia hotel, as walk up building and retail dining.
• Gorge Gateway: At the site of the former Travel Lodge, Second and Main. Preliminary strategy: A state park lodge, large event space or private lodge with event space and park access
• The Canal: Bordered by Second, Main and Niagara. Named for the former hydraulic canal, a large parcel. Four separate buildings, strategies include a 140- to 160-room hotel; a multi-family walkup building with ground floor retail; A mixed-use building with a 140- to 160-room hotel; another multifamily with ground floor retail, community space and residential town homes
• Upper Rapids: 101 and 305 Buffalo Ave. A 40- to 50-room heritage building with event space and a brewery and a 30- to 40-room hotel with ground floor amenities.
An early item to be built will be an observation deck near the upper rapids, taking advantage of the natural view to give treetop access.
The Old Falls and Niagara streets site was chosen as USAN’s first ground-up redevelopment target, although state officials are currently evaluating interim and long-term uses for the other parcels. While open to any/all permitted uses, proposals for this RFP are intended to focus upon mixed-use infill development that further enhances the walkability and density of both First Street and Old Falls Street, while expanding street-level retail offerings to visitors and residents. Previous market analysis suggests there is unmet demand along the Old Falls Street corridor for at least one major upscale hotel, additional food and beverage facilities, as well as new residential units.
“USAN has committed to improving the downtown core through its property acquisitions in 2019,” said City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino. “The city looks forward to the results of the RFP on this very important and prime location.”
The RFP are due at 4 p.m. on Dec. 10.
The Strategic Land Acquisition Program was created to assemble long-dormant properties located near Niagara Falls State Park in order to remove blight from the downtown area and expand the density of uses as downtown Niagara Falls grows into a year-round, sustainable neighborhood.