By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — Despite the calendar saying Wednesday, it's time to head to the polls to vote in the city of Niagara Falls.
This time, polls are open from noon to 9 p.m. today for a decision on the proposed sale of a number of properties by the city's school district, most notably the former South Junior building. A favorable vote would clear the way for redevelopment of the South Junior building by the private firm, CB-Emmanuel Realty LLC. The company plans to create apartments and commercial space on site if voters support the proposed property sale.
On Tuesday, Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-Lewiston, issued a press release endorsing the plan to sell the property to kickstart the $26 million rehabilitation project for the long-vacant building.
"The project will also help to transform a blighted part of town into quality homes for working class families and will be equipped with a new playground and parking for residents," Ceretto said. "By transforming the abandoned school into affordable housing, we are improving the aesthetics of the area while also helping to enhance the quality of life for local residents."
The sale of South Junior, located at 561 Portage Road, would create several units for people earning 48 to 60 percent of the area's median income. Ten veteran housing units for armed forces members will also be created, as well as new commercial space, Ceretto added.
Other properties the district hopes to divest itself of include Legends Park, a part of the former sports field at Harry F. Abate Elementary on Portage Road, and 11 properties in the 2900 blocks of Jerauld and North avenues. The properties would be sold to the city for a total of $2 and both the former administration building in the 600 block of Walnut Avenue and the district’s former warehouse in the 500 block of Sixth Street to Housing Visions Consulting Inc. for $20,000 total.
Today's vote is open to any registered voter in the city. The same polling places used by the school district as part of the annual budget vote in May are open to voters today.
Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.