Elected officials say Niagara Falls, like Buffalo, is rebounding

Jul 24, 2015

While it may be known as the "Buffalo Billion," New York State's large cash investment in Western New York includes other parts of the region. And elected officials say you're seeing a similar economic turnaround as a result, including one in Niagara Falls.

An example of the Cataract City's comeback, as officials see it, was celebrated inside the Holiday Inn on Buffalo Avenue, which recently expanded to include a Tony Roma's restaurant and Great American Arcade game center. To mark the occasion, elected officials held a "rib cutting," during which they sliced through a rack of barbecued ribs, a reference to the restaurant's specialty.

At left, Empire State Development Regional President Sam Hoyt makes opening remarks at a ceremony celebrating the expansion inside the Holiday Inn in Niagara Falls. Watching are, left to right, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, hotel owner Faisal Merani, State Senator Rob Ortt and State Assemblyman John Ceretto.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

For many years, leaders on this side of the natural wonder were frustrated as their Canadian counterparts built a skyline of new hotels, casinos, restaurants and other development. Not helping the cause of Niagara Falls, USA was a road system which, critics say, severed the waterfront from the city.

"The falls have always been here, but the climate was not good or healthy for developers," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "That's been cleaned up over the last few decades."

The most noticeable work being done with public dollars is the restructuring of the Robert Moses Parkway. Local officials say cutting off access to their waterfront has worked against the American side of the falls.

Another major public investment in the works is Wonderfalls, announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo. It will turn a large portion of the former Rainbow Centre mall into a mixed-use facility (a culinary school already exists there) that includes hotel space, dining and other year-round attractions.

Hochul, when asked when that project will get started, told reporters attending Friday's hotel gathering to expect an announcement in the near future.