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Community Services for Every1 named preferred developer for First Street property
USAN will partner with State Parks to stabilize Schoellkopf Hall
Submitted on behalf of USA Niagara Development Corp.
USA Niagara Development Corp. (USAN) board of directors met today and approved items that will improve the quality of life and experience in Niagara Falls for both visitors and residents. One item will help meet the city’s need for local housing and commercial spaces that will boost pedestrian activity. A second item will help to structurally stabilize a historic property at a state park for future use.
“We are very pleased to be working to expand opportunities for quality housing in downtown Niagara Falls,” USAN President Anthony Vilardo said. “Rebuilding and revitalizing the city’s south end requires a diverse mix of places and spaces that will accommodate a range of residential, commercial and recreational uses. Community Services for Every1’s project on First Street is a strong signal that there is room for additional growth in a rebounding residential market, and we’re happy that it also supports Gov. Hochul’s broader housing goals for New York state.”
The USAN board designated Community Services for Every1 (CSE1) as the preferred developer to undertake the First Street apartment building redevelopment project. The project, estimated to cost $35.8 million, involves the construction of a six-story, mixed-use building located on a portion of a USAN-owned property on the corner of First Street and Old Falls Street. The proposed building will have approximately 78 apartments and 4,700 square-feet of commercial space occupied by the preferred developer.
The proposed unit mix includes studio, one and two-bedroom units targeted to households earning up to 50%-60% or 80%-90% of the area median income. The proposed units will help meet the local need for new housing, while street-level commercial and community spaces will contribute to pedestrian activity and street life. CSE1 will use the ground-floor commercial space for job readiness and workforce development services that will benefit Niagara County residents with disabilities and their families.
CSE1 will partner with Edgemere Development on the project. USAN and CSE1 will now negotiate the principal terms and conditions of a development agreement. These terms and conditions, as well as a general project plan (GPP), will be presented to the directors for their approval at a later date.
“The commitment of USA Niagara to commercial and residential development in our downtown continues to expand the possibilities for growth,” City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said. “The new housing development on First Street will continue efforts to bring local residents into the downtown corridor, helping to spur further commercial development.”
The USAN board also authorized a memorandum of understanding with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for the Schoellkopf Hall stabilization project.
Schoellkopf Hall at DeVeaux Woods State Park is on the State Register of Historic Places, and has also been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. Dedicated in 1930 as a dormitory for the now-defunct DeVeaux School and situated within the bounds of DeVeaux Woods State Park on the edge of the Niagara River, this stone and concrete building is an example of 20th-century Collegiate Gothic institutional design that combines traditional Gothic design motifs with contemporary fireproofing and rational planning principles. Designed by prominent Rochester-based architect C. Storrs Barrows (who was a graduate of the DeVeaux School), its construction was funded by area philanthropist Paul A. Schoellkopf of the Buffalo, Niagara & Eastern Power Co.
The building has been vacant since 1998, but the overall physical integrity of the building is considered to be relatively sound. Recognizing the historical and cultural significance of the project site and to expand the available recreational and tourism focused offerings, USAN and State Parks will partner in an effort to preserve and stabilize the site, as well as prepare it for future potential adaptive reuse.
USAN’s portion of the project, in an amount not to exceed $1.5 million, will be provided to State Parks through New York State’s Regional Economic and Community Assistance Program (RECAP), with State Parks contributing $1 million toward the $2.5 million project. No USAN corporate funds will be used for the project.
“While DeVeaux Woods State Park is a state park, it is more so a neighborhood park with an historic past; so, it is important that we preserve its stories – so, stabilizing this building for future use is a key component of those efforts,” said Mark V. Mistretta, Niagara Region director for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “We are grateful to our partners at USAN for their support of this project.”
The USAN board of directors also approved the corporation’s operating and capital budgets for the fiscal year 2023-24, as well as the proposed operating and capital budget requests for the Niagara Falls Convention Center and Old Falls Street for 2023.
2022 was the first year the Niagara Falls Convention Center was under the management of Destination Niagara, and was the first time the NFCC generated an operation surplus in the facility’s existence. This is significant, as only a few convention centers in the country generate an operation at surplus.
More About USA Niagara Development Corp.
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.