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USA Niagara breaks ground on Cataract Commons Project in Niagara Falls

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Sat, Jun 1st 2019 09:50 am

New mural will also add to visitor experience on Old Falls Street

See site map and project rendering for Cataract Commons here: https://esd.ny.gov/sites/default/files/Cataract-Commons-Renderings.pdf

USA Niagara Development Corp. on Friday celebrated the groundbreaking for Cataract Commons, a public square or "commons" space located on Old Falls Street in downtown Niagara Falls. The project is designed to transform an empty parcel into a more usable and inviting outdoor facility that will have permanent structural seating and shade, as well as flexibility for hosting various events.

The roughly $1 million project, funded through Buffalo Billion II, is expected to be complete in May 2020.

"We at USA Niagara are extremely excited to bring Cataract Commons to fruition in Downtown Niagara Falls," said USAN President Anthony Vilardo. "With the restoration of Old Falls Street, this space has quickly become an important part of our civic fabric. The improvements being made to this public square will provide a much-needed enhanced public amenity to residents and visitors alike. This project pays homage to the history of downtown and is one that the Niagara Falls community will be proud of."

This project, designed by award-winning landscape architecture firm Trowbridge Wolf Michaels, is located at the southeast corner of Rainbow Boulevard and Old Falls Street. At approximately 10,000 square feet, it sits within the former footprint of the Wintergarden.

Although relatively small and currently unimproved, it has provided a place for residents and tourists to stop and take a break with their families. The site has also been used to stage several Old Falls Street events, including “Flicks at the Falls” and Oktoberfest. The games and activities on site, such as the larger-than-life board games and public chalk board, will be temporarily relocated along Old Falls Street. A site map and project rendering are available here: https://esd.ny.gov/sites/default/files/Cataract-Commons-Renderings.pdf.

The transformation of Cataract Commons includes earthwork; the installation of metal shade structures, planters, fabricated wood and metal marquee signage; concrete flatwork; constructing a concrete amphitheater; landscaping, seating and lighting.

One block away on Old Falls Street, local artist Casey Milbrand, known for his "Greetings from Buffalo" mural on Ellicott Street in Buffalo and "Lookin Good" mural on Hertel in North Buffalo, has started a mural project on the former Wintergarden walkway – known by locals for its red and black checkered wall. The beautification project, funded by USAN and expected to be completed by the end of June, will play on the theme of Niagara Falls as America's "Honeymoon Capital." Visitors will be encouraged to take their pictures with the mural and share via social media.

City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, "Today's groundbreaking marks an important first step in activating a critical piece of public space along Old Falls Street – one of the most high-traffic areas in our city's downtown corridor. Thanks to our partners at USA Niagara, Cataract Commons promises to be a family-friendly community space for the many exciting events we proudly play host to all year long.

A press release said, “These two projects further New York state's commitments in Niagara Falls as it works to realize the city's true potential as a world-class tourism destination. Other projects supported by the state include $70 million in recent renovations to Niagara Falls State Park; more than $73 million dedicated to the removal of underused expressway segments; multiple completed, in-progress and planned hotel projects; the acquisition of several key underutilized properties near Niagara Falls State Park for mixed-use development; and $172 million in public and private development in downtown Niagara Falls completed under Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo, with an additional $264 million in projects underway and proposed.”

New York State Sen. Robert Ortt said, "The Cataract Commons project will help continue Niagara Falls' revitalization. Importantly, the project will provide a true benefit to residents and visitors alike – improving the quality of life and the tourist experience"

Assemblymen Angelo Morinello said, "This project is an example of cooperation between the governor's office and USA Niagara as they work to focus on smaller projects that come to fruition for the benefit of both residents and visitors."

About USA Niagara Development Corp.

USAN, a subsidiary of Empire State Development Corp., is solely dedicated to the support and promotion of economic development initiatives in Niagara Falls by leveraging private investment and encouraging growth and renewal of the tourism industry in the City of Niagara Falls. For more information, visit https://esd.ny.gov/usa-niagara-development-corporation-6.

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