Niagara Falls gets $10 million from state for downtown investment

Aug 14, 2019

The city of Niagara Falls will receive $10 million to help transform its Bridge District. Gov. Andrew Cuomo was there Wednesday to announce the funding, which is part of the fourth round of the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo makes the announcement Wednesday in Niagara Falls.
Credit Nick Lippa / WBFO News

Cuomo said the DRI money will help Niagara Falls continue efforts to increase waterfront access, like the ongoing removal of Niagara Scenic Parkway.

“So we said we’re going to take the Robert Moses Parkway down, reconnect the community with the waterfront. That’s a major transformation moment," Cuomo said. "And what your plan does, in my opinion, is it exploits and builds on that movement and it takes the bridge district, which does need investment and does need help, and it focuses on that district in a very intelligent way. There’s a residential component, there’s a connection for Main Street and a path to get to the water, so I think it hits all the points.”

Nine other municipalities will also receive $10 million, as one from each of the state’s 10 regional economic districts are chosen. Before Niagara Falls, previous Western New York winners were Jamestown, Olean and Lockport.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said the award is the culmination of efforts by city leaders and those in the private sector.

“For years we preached that if we made the right decisions in the public realm, if we created the right infrastructure, private investment would follow and investors, developers would take a new look at Niagara Falls, and now it is happening right before our eyes,” he said.

Dyster said the DRI is most effective in a place where there is a social need that meets up with a market opportunity like the bridge district.

“The proposal that we made was somewhat more than 50% public realm improvements. Playing off the removal of the parkway,” Dyster said. “But there was also a substantial fund, some of which was designed to assist in a large projects. Some of which could be newly built. Some of which was designed to assist in rehabilitation of historic structures.”

A local planning committee will now work with the state to figure out how to disperse the funds. Potential projects will relate to economic development, transportation and housing.

USA Niagara President Anthony Vilardo described the area that will see this money.

“The bridge district from the application is the area on Main Street from the Niagara River going east to 11th Street,” Vilardo said. “And it goes north from Kassam Avenue, which is kind of the southern tip of the DeVeaux neighborhood, down through the intersection where it splits with Portage Road, so where the Central Library is, the Earl W. Brydges Library, which is the second branch of the Nioga Library system.”

Vilardo said this will help speed up downtown development.

“Where a lot of the investments had been previously been made in the tourist area, this is really going to connect the city back to its waterfront,” he said. “This is an investment for the residents of the city of Niagara Falls.”

Plans will be finalized next year.