Breaking News
More () »

NYS Buys Falls Properties For $25 Million

The state on Wednesday approved the purchase of several buildings and parcels of land in the downtown tourist area of Niagara Falls.

NIAGARA FALLS, NY - Following up on a pledge made by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo nearly two years ago, the state on Wednesday approved the purchase of several buildings and parcels of land in the downtown tourist area of Niagara Falls.

Niagara USA Development Corporation, an arm of Empire State Development Corporation, is purchasing a total of 32 properties from Smokin’ Joe Anderson.

The purchase price for all properties, approximately $25 million, was arrived upon following appraisals of each parcel according to the state.

However, when asked to do so, a state official declined to provide copies of those appraisals to verify this.

The state will spend an additional $2 million on closing costs and to maintain the properties while it seeks requests for proposals from developers.

Combined, the properties being sold total just over 11 acres in size.

In his 2017 State of the State address, the governor announced a program for the state to take over underutilized parcels in the tourist area, and then using a combination of incentives, hopefully lure developers into making them into attractions for tourists.

The properties include 18 vacant lots, several buildings (some of which are vacant and others of which are occupied) mostly along 2nd and 3rd Streets.

Also included in the sale are the Smokin’ Joe’s Native Center’s (originally built as the Falls Street Station development in the late 1980s) along First and Old Falls Streets, and Anderson’s Quality Inn Hotel and Legends restaurant and night club.

As well, Anderson’s now shuttered Niagara Snow Park complex near the Rainbow Bridge is also part of the package of properties being purchased.

Already, Buffalo developer Carl Paladino tells Two on Your Side he'd be interested in acquiring the Quality Inn property from the state,and tying it into his adjacent Giacomo Hotel and residential tower.

According to Empire State Development Senior Vice President Christopher Schoepflin, the state hopes to close on the purchases late this year or early next year. After that, he says the plan is to find developers quickly, so the state isn't holding the properties for an extended period of time.

Ideally, according to Schoepflin, the goal would be to see many of the parcels, some of which are grouped together, transformed into high density developments that would appeal to tourists and nearby residents alike.

"We'd like to see a good, high density mix of retail, lodging , entertainment and residential...all that stuff as a mix of buildings in a series of developments along the way," he said.

That would suit Angelo Morinello, who represents the city in the New York State Assembly, just fine.

"We don't need any more of these grandiose, pie in the sky, big dollar items which never seem to materialize," Morinello (R-145th District) told WGRZ-TV. "We need something like old St. Augustine...with little walkable alleys, some smaller businesses, and a larger number or individual businesses that more people can get involved with.

During the time which the state owns the properties they will be taken off the tax rolls, thereby not generate any revenue for the city.

And there is no provision to make the city "whole" in the interim.

That does not bother Mayor Paul Dyster, however, especially in light of the potential for tax revenue from redeveloped properties and associated jobs down the road.

"I think it would be easy to overestimate the current tax value of these properties to the city," said Dyster.

"Eighteen of the parcels are vacant, so they don't generate much in taxes to the city, and I think the total of all taxes to the city, county and school taxes on all of these properties is somewhat less than $600,000 a year," Dyster said.

Before You Leave, Check This Out