BY Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — The city is getting some help from the state to help stabilize downtown.
The Western New York Regional Economic Development council has selected the Downtown Niagara Falls Stabilization Project submitted by the city’s community development department as one of its priority projects. The $450,000 grant will be used for the demolition of blighted structures, storefront improvements and property acquisitions, according to a press release from the community development offices.
Seth Piccirillo, the director of community development, said that this grant will help his department to attract more people and businesses to the downtown core.
“This grant is going to allow us to make some real concrete investments downtown,” he said.
Piccirillo said the Downtown Housing Incentive Program — the program that will pay the student loans of college graduates and graduate students to locate in a designated area downtown — was used to leverage the grant from the state.
“We look for capital from New York state to make bricks and mortar improvements as we are also looking to lure people downtown,” Piccirillo said.
The housing program and grant are just small steps towards reviving the long-declining downtown neighborhoods, Piccirillo said.
“We have to do things that will help us compete for new residents, new businesses and new investments,” Piccirillo said. “That’s what successful places do.”
Mayor Paul Dyster said the grant will help the city make downtown more desirable for private investors.
“Our application was based on finding ways to help the private sector invest in our city,” Dyster said. “I believe that Governor [Andrew] Cuomo and his team recognized that common sense plan, and that is why we received the grant.”
New York economic development officials announced Wednesday $700 million in regional economic development incentives, mostly tax breaks, on top of $785.5 million announced last year, all intended to keep or create jobs.
The largest package this year is $96.2 million for 76 projects in the Finger Lakes region. Among them, it lists $5 million for Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation, a partnership between the University of Rochester and IBM; and $5 million for equipment purchases at the recently completed Rochester Institute of Technology’s Golisano Institute examining sustainability in product development.
Other large packages are $93.8 million for 73 projects in central New York, such as $3.1 million for the Syracuse Community Health Center to establish a center at the former Superior Electric facility. Another $92.8 million was announced for 84 projects in the mid-Hudson Valley, with $3 million to establish the Cloud Computing and Analytics Center at Marist College, meant to help technology-based companies by workforce training and by reducing overhead.