The USA Niagara Development Corp. board of directors met Tuesday and authorized Destination Niagara USA as manager of The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls and Old Falls Street, beginning in January 2022.
Destination Niagara USA is the official destination marketing organization for Niagara County. The private nonprofit has a mission to expand the economic prosperity of the Niagara Falls USA communities by generating individual and group visitation.
“Destination Niagara USA has always been a strong partner to USAN, and we are excited to see its role in Niagara Falls expand as manager of the Conference Center and Old Falls Street,” USAN Chairwoman Francine DelMonte said. “As the business travel and conference industry rebounds, Destination Niagara will be building on the center’s prior success.”
Destination Niagara USA President and CEO John Percy said, “We are excited to take on this new venture as manager of the Conference & Event Center of Niagara Falls and Old Falls Street. This represents a significant opportunity for us to elevate the Niagara Falls USA product, control the brand, increase sales and become more relevant to the community. We have the expertise and the tools to turn CCNF into a profitable facility and OFS into a greater hub of activity for locals and visitors year-round. We know and understand the convention and meeting business, the strengths of our destination as a meetings market, and how to highlight them in order to attract future convention groups.”
The Destination Niagara USA board of directors also approved the term sheet with USAN for management services of the Conference Center and Old Falls Street.
A press release noted Destination Niagara USA has “worked diligently to increase the visibility of the Niagara Falls brand to the meetings market by integrating targeted marketing programs. DNUSA has collaborated with local hotel partners and CCNF to focus on the market segments to make CCNF/OFS successful. With DNUSA managing CCNF/OFS, they will bring a management advantage by being able to elevate the product, control the brand, increase sales and provide a level of synergy not available before. As a not-for-profit, DNUSA will also bring a financial advantage by not charging the type of fees USAN has incurred with private sector operators, enabling more of USAN’s resources to be reinvested back into the development of CCNF and OFS.”
The five-year initial term with a contract amount not to exceed $1.6 million (first-year subsidy of $1.5 million, plus a transitional budget of $100,000) may later be extended for a two-year term. Terms call for Destination Niagara USA to manage the Conference Center at a level consistent with the operation of a first-class venue. DNUSA will also be expected to interface with the City of Niagara Falls, Niagara University, the Seneca Nation and other significant local parties to maximize the use, revenue and hotel night generation of the facility.
DNUSA’s scope of services for Old Falls Street includes general cleaning and upkeep, facilitating and coordinating the programming of events, administering the permit application process and conducting enforcement for both event and daily vending operations.
USAN developed and opened the $20 million Conference Center in 2004 to replace the functions of the former Niagara Falls Convention & Civic Center, which had been converted to house the Seneca Niagara Casino. The site has 116,000 square-feet of versatile, state-of-the-art indoor meeting and event space, offering myriad customizations for conventions, meetings and banquet options, including the ability to host private outdoor receptions just footsteps from Niagara Falls State Park and its famed waterfalls.
USAN said the Conference Center’s primary mission is to stimulate downtown economic activity by expanding visitation to Niagara Falls; to generate lodging demand from attendees of professional meetings, conferences, seminars and conventions; and to facilitate expenditures at local commercial establishments through increases in overnight visitation.
Old Falls Street is a three-block destination connecting Niagara Falls State Park with the Conference Center and downtown hotels, restaurants and attractions. Serving as a welcome center for residents and visitors alike, USAN said, “It provides exciting spaces for free family-friendly games and activities, seasonal concerts, outdoor movies, festivals and special events.”
From 2005-09, USAN and the City of Niagara Falls undertook a two-phase project that fully restored Old Falls Street as a functioning vehicular street, and revitalized it into an active public space. In 2020, USAN completed Cataract Commons – a public square or “commons” space – transforming an empty parcel into a more usable and inviting outdoor facility that has permanent structural seating and shade, as well as flexibility for hosting various events.
Old Falls Street now serves as the front door to several downtown institutions, including the Conference Center; the 1885 entrance to Niagara Falls State Park (a National Historic Landmark); the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino complex; and the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute.
Spectra Venue Management, formerly known as Global Spectrum, successfully managed the Conference Center and Old Falls Street since 2009.
The USAN board of directors also approved a list of prequalified real estate development and planning related consultants. This includes real estate planning and advisory services, financial and economic analysis, architecture and design, construction and engineering, phase I environmental site assessment, environmental review, infrastructure advisory services, transportation planning, historic preservation and adaptive reuse, and surveyor professionals.
USAN, a subsidiary of Empire State Development, 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.