Forecast calling for a World Weather Center

James Neiss/staff photographerLed by John Simon, efforts are underway to establish a $138 million World Weather Center in the former One Niagara building in downtown Niagara Falls.

Former Niagara County Industrial Development Agency director John Simon is trying to establish a World Weather Center in the former One Niagara building — a $138 million project.

Simon appeared at the Niagara River Greenway Commission meeting last week to pitch a “multi-sensory weather-related exhibits and experiences” concept for the “Cube Building” that would appeal to families and tourists visiting the area. 

In pitching the plan to the Niagara Falls City Council in 2017, organizers said they wanted to create a “Disney-quality” attraction revolving around climate with interactive but educational exhibits, something that can be seen across the international border during tourist season and serve as a field trip destination for local schools in the winter months.

“I think it’s safe to say there’s nothing like it in North America,” Simon said after being contacted, but said that further details would be provided by himself at a later date.

He did say, however, that the project would cost approximately $138 million, would create jobs and bring several millions dollars to Niagara Falls in the first few years of its existence.

No plans to purchase One Niagara are in action until a meeting with the Empire State Development Corp. has occurred, explained Simon, at which time it’ll become known as to whether the state will support the project.

Simon was not asking for funds from the greenway commission to repurpose the building, which also houses the One Niagara Welcome Center, but briefed the board to the creation of a Citizen Scientist App that would engage tourists and residents on environmental phenomena along the Niagara River Greenway. Simon said that there are two tiers to the app, one being the WWC Weather Citizen Scientist App and another being a tourism app.

Simon said he would request funds from the greenway commission if plans move forward. According to a brief that was passed out to commissioners at the meeting, the app “creates deeper understanding in citizens as stakeholders” in regards to weather and tourism. The WWC submitted its project review for funding this past September.

After meeting with Niagara Falls Senior Planner Tom DeSantis, it was decided to expand from the original Weather Center concept to include the tourism app.

The creation of the apps and the Weather Center “intends to engage, educate, and excite visitors of all ages and weather’s impact on everyday life as well as the importance to the future of planet Earth” reads the document.

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