Niagara Gazette — In its pitch to extend the city’s service agreement with the NDC, the city’s economic development department suggested Sweet’s group has been involved in discussions focused on advancing a new “downtown development” involving NFR.
“We’ve used him to talk to development entities in cases where there’s been some history of tension in the past relationship or maybe where we felt like we haven’t communicated as well as we should have,” Dyster said. “Actually, I’d say things are as good as they’ve been in a long time with NFR.”
Economic development staffer Joe Collura indicated that the NDC will continue to meet with representatives from NFR and Lewiston developer Smokin’ Joe Anderson in the future as part of “working toward a framework for advancing new projects.”
Dyster said his office is also working with NDC to establish the “Grown Niagara Falls Fund,” a revolving loan fund designed to offer long-term financing, low equity requirement, flexible underwriting criteria and limited pre-payment penalties to help local businesses expand.
Dyster also contends that without a contract with NDC, the city will no longer have access to “New Market Tax Credits,” complex financial instruments that can be used to help finance large-scale development projects.
Over the past year, the city’s economic development staff says NDC has helped advance several projects “closer to an implementation decision,” including:
• Expansion of the Sheraton at the Falls hotel and rehabilitation of the Days Inn downtown.
• JBI, Inc.’s plans for a manufacturing expansion project in the Buffalo Avenue industrial corridor.
• A “mixed-use downtown development,” possibly involving new housing construction, that is being considered by an unnamed Canadian developer.
• Redevelopment of the old Unifrax headquarters building on Whirlpool Street by the firm, TM Montante Development.
• A proposed “research, manufacturing and office” project being considered by the firm, Blue Sky Optimum Energy, Inc., in the Highland Avenue area.