Niagara Gazette

Local News

June 28, 2013

New plan for old Falls school building

Niagara Gazette — A new developer is considering a plan to revive the old South Junior High School building.

Officials from the city’s community development department joined representatives from the firm, CB-Emmanual Realty, LLC, for a community forum at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center on Thursday.

The session was designed to give residents living in the neighborhood surrounding South Junior information about the company’s plan to turn the old Walnut Avenue school building into a mixed-use structure featuring both apartments and commercial space. 

“I think if this is going to be successful, it’s going to be successful because it’s a mixed-use building,” said Niagara Falls Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo. “It will have people both living and working in the building.” 

South Junior has been the subject of redevelopment talks for many years. The most recent proposal, dubbed the Niagara Falls City Lofts Civic Revitalization Project, was pitched by Newark Niagara Falls, LLC, a company involving Buffalo architect Clinton Brown and Syracuse developer Murray Gould. That project, a $14 million plan involving private bank financing, investment tax credits and financial support from the state, never materialized.   

Piccirillo said CB-Emmanual Realty, a Queens-based firm, will be looking to take advantage of similar public benefits, including low-income and historic tax credits as well as funds from a $5 million Restore New York grant the city received as part of the earlier project back in 2009. 

The company’s portfolio lists renovation and rehabilitation projects in Harlem, Brooklyn and the Bronx and management of rental units in the Bronx, Manhatten, Brooklyn and Queens. Company officials attended Thursday’s meeting in the Falls in an effort to better explain what it is they’d like to see done with the South Junior building. 

Piccirillo said the company is interested in developing market-rate apartments as part of the project and is currently in talks with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center about making use of space inside the building as well. 

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