Niagara Falls' new $40 million Amtrak Station is almost complete, but one last piece of the puzzle remains. Falls Business Development Director Anthony Villardo says it is an exciting opportunity for the right business looking to be part of what will be a major new tourism attraction for international travelers.
Villardo says the City of Niagara Falls has issued an Request For Proposals to fill 4,600 square feet of available retail space on the first floor of the station.
"We're interested in getting one or multiple retail components in there," said Villardo. "The ideal space would be a unique destination, whether it be a microbrewery, a distillery or a winery. We'll be reaching out to the folks who have participated in the craft beverage market here in New York State. We'd like to have a food component tied into that if possible."
With the right concept, Villardo estimates the retail opportunity could help connect 8 million visitors to the space, which will be on the first floor of the station along with the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Interpretive Center.
The new train station building will be combined with a restored 1865 U.S. Customs House, located at the gateway to the Whirlpool Rapids International Bridge. Construction of the Amtrak building is nearing completion. Six trains - or 90 riders - will run a day. Villardo says riders are expected to triple in three years.
He said the city also is excited about the possibility of Toronto's Go Train locating in Niagara Falls, Ontario. "That would be great because it would be only a couple hundred yards away from our train station," said Villardo. "That's a tremendous opportunity to expedite cross-border travel."
He said American and Canadian officials have been working together to make sure the Niagara Falls, NY train station is as compatible as possible with the one on the Canadian side.
The entire tourist attraction is part of the Robert Moses Parkway removal project that Villardo said, when complete, will create an expansive greenspace that reconnects the northern end of Niagara Falls with its waterfront. "This has never happened before," he said.
The attraction is expected to open this summer at the foot of the Whirlpool International Bridge.