USA Niagara board acquires Hotel Niagara, will issue RFP to develop hotel

The USA Niagara Development Corp. board of directors met today and approved the acquisition of 201 Rainbow Blvd. – the historic Hotel Niagara – for the purpose of issuing a request for proposals for the complete renovation of the architecturally significant property.

“The Hotel Niagara has been vacant for far too long and today we are stepping up to lead the way toward redeveloping this landmark property,” USAN President Christopher Schoepflin said. “With the goal of entering into a partnership with an experienced developer, USAN will ensure that this property is put back into productive use that will contribute to the visitor experience in downtown Niagara Falls.”

The property, one of the few remaining structures that pre-date urban renewal demolition activities in the city, offers several benefits to potential developers, including eligibility for historic tax credits and its location adjacent to the USAN-owned Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls, Old Falls Street and the entrance to Niagara Falls State Park.

USAN will purchase the property from JSK International Corp. for the fair market value of the property, which is up to $4.4 million. Funding for acquisition and related interim holding costs, including inspections, insurance and property holding services up to $5 million, will be provided through the “Buffalo Billion.” USAN does not intend to own the property long-term, but will need to acquire, hold and insure the property for approximately 24 months after closing. Any future transfer for development will require additional USAN board approval.

For all the details, click here to read.


Empower’s new bottle and can redemption center offers work opportunities for individuals with disabilities

Empower, the not-for-profit organization formerly known as Niagara Cerebral Palsy, recently has opened a bottle and can redemption center, called Empties for Empower.

The center, located at 4701 Military Road (near the Route 31 intersection), is available for anyone to use. The public can drop off bottles and cans, opting to receive a full deposit or donate it to Empower. Empower also earns money back on every bottle and can.

Empties for Empower is a job training and employment readiness program for individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities. These individuals sort the bottles and cans, and handle cash returns and donations. Funding for the program is provided through the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

For the full details, click here!

New York congressional representatives send bipartisan letter to President Obama opposing Trans-Pacific Partnership

U.S. Reps. Chris Collins (R-NY-27) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY-25) today led a bipartisan letter from members of the New York congressional delegation to President Barack Obama opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

TPP is a free trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 countries: Malaysia, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Peru and Singapore. Members sent the letter as final negotiations are currently underway between the U.S. administration and the participating foreign countries.

“Western New York bears the scars of poorly negotiated past free trade agreements – scars like lost jobs, shuttered factories and a generation lost to economic opportunities that were outsourced to foreign competitors,” Collins said. “I cannot support a trade agreement that once again threatens America’s working middle class, and fails to address several of the biggest challenges facing American manufacturers, including currency manipulation and intellectual property protection.

“I want to thank Congresswoman Slaughter for her leadership on this issue and the rest of the New York delegation who joined us in signing this letter.”

To read more, click here.

Cuomo announces $42 million project to remove two-mile stretch of Robert Moses Parkway and enhance access to Niagara

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York state will replace an underutilized two-mile stretch of the Robert Moses Parkway North in Niagara Falls with open space, scenic overlooks and recreational trails to make the waterfront more accessible to residents, tourists and visitors alike. The project marks the largest expansion of green space since the Niagara Reservation was designed in 1885, and will link the Niagara River Gorge and Falls into a single destination to allow easier access to the water’s edge.

“The unparalleled natural beauty of the Niagara Falls attracts millions of visitors every year and today we are continuing to build on what makes this region so special,” Cuomo said. “This project will reimagine the parkway to better utilize the surrounding parkland and open up the waterfront for all to enjoy. Niagara Falls is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, and we will continue to make transformative investments that help maintain the city’s status as a world-class tourism destination.”

The project will remove an underutilized two-mile segment of the parkway from Main Street to Findlay Drive. It will include a reconstruction of Whirlpool Street, which will be redesigned into a two-lane street to provide all north-south access to the section of the Niagara Gorge Corridor closest to the parkway.

After about 18 acres of pavement is removed, about 300 acres of green space will be opened up along the Niagara Gorge rim between Niagara Falls State Park and Whirlpool and DeVeaux Woods state parks. This will enable new recreational opportunities in the area, including scenic overlooks and trails that could be used for hiking, cycling and cross-country skiing.

For the whole story, click here.

Higgins: $7.75 million to address work ending homelessness in Western New York

Congressman Brian Higgins has announced more than $7.75 million in federal funding to support efforts to end homelessness in Western New York. The federal funding will be provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“This funding will allow us to continue to make great strides in efforts to see that every Western New Yorker has a place to call home,” Higgins said. “The credit goes to each of these local agencies providing critical resources for the homeless and making a real difference in the lives of those they serve.”

The federal funding provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will support projects led by 15 local agencies:


For the full details, click here.

UB professors pledge $1 million to support creative arts students

University at Buffalo faculty members Diane Christian and Bruce Jackson are widely known for having multifaceted careers. They recently added a new role to their lengthy résumés: Philanthropists. The pair has pledged a $1 million bequest commitment to support students of creative and performing arts at UB.

Once realized, the pledge will create a scholarship and a fellowship fund for undergraduate and graduate students in the creative arts. The pledge is made in support of the Creative Arts Initiative, a new UB program that brings world-class creative and performing artists to the university for on-campus residencies. Jackson, SUNY Distinguished Professor and James Agee Professor of American Culture, is co-director of CAI with SUNY Distinguished Professor David Felder, Birge-Cary Professor of Music.

In Western New York, the couple is perhaps best known as the creators and longtime hosts of the Buffalo Film Seminars, which began in 2000 and have been held each semester for the past 16 years.

Through their pledged gift, the couple will honor their mothers by naming the two awards for them: the Julia Jackson Scholarship in the Creative and Performing Arts, and the Ruth Christian Graduate Fellowship in the Arts.

UB President Satish K. Tripathi expressed thanks to the pair for offering such significant support to the creative arts at the university.

To read more more, click here.

KeyBank provides $12 million for workforce and affordable housing development in Niagara Falls

KeyBank announced it will provide a total of $12 million in capital to help develop the Niagara City Lofts in Niagara Falls. The adaptive reuse project will convert an existing, abandoned public high school, built in 1923 and vacant since 1986, into 61 units of workforce housing, affordable housing, market rate apartments and a new commercial community space.

The building has been submitted to the National Register of Historic Places for designation as a historic building.

“Our community development lending and investment platform is designed to fund a diverse set of affordable housing options,” said Robert Likes, national manager of CDLI. “We’re very proud to support community developments like the Niagara City Lofts, which will help alleviate a widespread affordable housing crisis in this country. The school building, once renovated, will offer valuable housing to those who need it most and become a source of pride.”

To learn more, click here.