On July 18, 2019, USA Niagara Development Corp. (USAN) announced a request for proposals (RFP) for the acquisition, rehabilitation/restoration and reuse of four mixed-use properties on Third Street (441, 466, 500, 512/518), and one vacant lot (503 Main St.) in downtown Niagara Falls, New York.
USAN said revitalization of these properties, all located in close proximity to one another, represents a unique opportunity to contribute to the redevelopment of a historic commercial district in an iconic American city.
USAN acquired the properties in March through a strategic land acquisition made possible through Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion Phase II.
“This is an opportunity to partner on development that will return property in downtown Niagara Falls to a productive use and add to the neighborhood fabric of Third Street,” USAN President Anthony Vilardo said. “These plans will also address a shortage of market-rate housing and help to improve and advance retail and commercial activity downtown. We look forward to reviewing proposals that will help rebuild this historic neighborhood.”
USAN will consider potential uses that are consistent with the City of Niagara Falls’ C1-A or C2-A neighborhood commercial zoning district requirements, which are intended to allow a range of residential and small-scale retail and services uses. Development should be pedestrian-oriented, with building setbacks that conform to the street’s existing and established character.
According to USAN design guidelines for Third Street, new development should respond to the proportions and rhythm of the architectural features in early 20th-century, mixed-use structures that are prevalent in the program area along Third Street between Main and Niagara streets.
USAN intends to transfer ownership of the properties for development.
Third Street is a north-south thoroughfare that runs directly through the heart of downtown Niagara Falls, blocks away from Niagara Falls State Park. Historically, Third Street was one of many bustling commercial districts in the South End of Niagara Falls. However, in response to perceived decline of downtown as a result of suburban development of the 1960s-’70s, the City of Niagara Falls undertook a significant urban renewal effort that resulted in the razing/clearance of much of downtown’s historic buildings to make way for a number of ill-fated large-scale development projects.
While the legacy of this destruction is visible throughout much of downtown, the Third Street district (between Niagara and Main streets) was largely spared from the wrecking ball. Today, it has the largest intact collection of mixed-use and commercial buildings in downtown Niagara Falls.
Proposals will be reviewed based on the following criteria:
- Purchase price of the property;
- Experience of the team;
- Overall quality of the development plan;
- Quality of the financial plan and economic impact of the proposal; and
- Diversity practices.
Previous investments inn Third Street have included $3.7 million in streetscape upgrades in 2005 to make the street more walkable and welcoming. USAN also established a $2 million grant program to encourage mixed-use development along Third Street. One block north, New York state is undertaking a $46 million removal of a two-mile segment of the former Robert Moses Parkway, from Main Street to Findlay Drive. When completed, it will become a linear waterfront park.
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 at 3 p.m. September 13, 2019.
Respondents to the RFP may submit proposals for one or more of the mixed-use properties, although proposals for the vacant lot at 503 Main must be tied to proposals for 500 and/or 512.
Photo of 503 Main St., Niagara Falls via Google Maps.