On September 23, 2021, the USA Niagara Development Corporation (USAN) announced a request for proposals for the redevelopment of a prime property in the heart of downtown Niagara Falls, New York.
The property is located at the intersection of First and Old Falls streets, two blocks from the entrance to Niagara Falls State Park, which attracts more than 9 million annual visitors.
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’s Buffalo Billion initiative. Acquisition of this key parcel was intended to support significant new mixed-use redevelopment and community revitalization.
“Located on Old Falls Street, the most heavily trafficked pedestrian route in Western New York, presents an exciting development opportunity,” USAN President Anthony Vilardo said. “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.”
City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said, “USAN has committed to improving the downtown core through its property acquisitions in 2019. The city looks forward to the results of the RFP on this very important and prime location.”
After a robust strategic planning process for the state-owned properties in Niagara Falls (read the Niagara Falls Downtown Development Strategy full report here), this site was chosen as USAN’s first ground-up redevelopment target, although USAN is currently evaluating interim and long-term uses for the balance of its real estate portfolio.
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.
Due to the existing building’s condition, its prime downtown location and the local zoning allowance, USAN will demolish the marginal, low-slung structures currently on the site.
USAN’s preferred use of the site is for a newly constructed, mixed-use building with ground-floor retail and hotel, office or residential uses – reminiscent of the Imperial Hotel that once stood on the site. USAN said all RFP respondents should assume a clear, shovel-ready site when developing their proposals.
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.
USAN, a subsidiary of Empire State Development, is solely dedicated to the support and promotion of economic development initiatives in Niagara Falls by leveraging private investment and encouraging growth and renewal of the tourism industry in the City of Niagara Falls.
Proposals are due by 4 p.m. December 10, 2021.
Rendering via USA Niagara Development Corp. and Empire State Development.