The USA Niagara Development Corp. (USAN) board of directors met and approved a measure that will advance the Rainbow Centre Mall adaptive reuse phase II, a key development project in downtown Niagara Falls. The board authorized USAN to enter into a contract amendment with Marvel Architects PLLC for consultant services.
Marvel has been working to provide design and engineering services to repurpose the remaining space in the former Rainbow Centre Mall into a high-density, mixed-use development. The project will restore pedestrian access through the center of the building and add services, such as retail, restaurant and tourist amenities, on the ground-level. This $3.99 million contract modification will allow Marvel, which completed the conceptual design and scoping in July 2020, to begin final design of the project.
“With our partner Marvel working on final designs, the city and USAN are taking the necessary steps to reimagine the remaining square-footage in the former Rainbow Centre Mall and support the revitalization of the tourism industry in downtown Niagara Falls,” USAN Chairwoman Francine DelMonte said. “Once completed, this long-dormant property will support greater public access and walkability, create commercial opportunities and entice visitors and residents to downtown.”
City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said, “We appreciate the innovation and initiative to take already existing spaces and transforming it for new business and economic opportunity in the city for both our residents and tourists to enjoy.”
A press release stated, “Marvel is one of the world’s leading adaptive reuse architectural practices and has completed many adaptive reuse/historic projects of various scales. Its holistic design practice includes an urban design unit, which helps them to envision a project’s impact at the neighborhood, district and even regional scale. The company’s primary goal is activation: creating sites that are vital, walkable, multimodal, and that serve a mix of audiences and groups.”
In December 2019, USAN and the City of Niagara Falls announced plans to undertake the adaptive reuse of the remaining mall space as a civic improvement project. Guided by the recommendations of a panel of experts from the Urban Land Institute, the project will establish greater public access and walkability, create commercial opportunities, and modernize parking resources to support new and existing businesses at and near the mall site. These modifications will create up to 200,000 square-feet of available space that could be repurposed for uses that would benefit downtown Niagara Falls, including attractions or other entertainment venues or partnerships with the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, such as an expansion of programming. USAN and the city have signed a project term sheet that allows USAN to procure and retain, at its expense, consultants necessary to develop plans and specifications necessary for construction of the project.
USAN and the city will later select a construction manager for the project.
The USAN board of directors also approved two other items:
•Approval of transfer of a USAN-owned building, at 466 Third St., to Cataract Development Corp. as part of a full rehabilitation of the building into a mixed-use development with five apartment units and two commercial storefronts. The project is expected to add value to the Third Street Business District, create new jobs and provide new residential opportunities.
•Adoption of the 2021 guidelines for the use, awarding, monitoring and reporting of procurement contracts. Contracts entered into by the corporation that exceed $150,000 will require approval by the directors.
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.