LOCKPORT — Imagine a refurbished historic downtown structure, its opulent banquet hall hosting weddings and other formal gatherings, and its hotel rooms occupied by visitors within walking distance of Cornerstone CFCU Arena, the Lockport Locks and places to eat, shop and do business.
That’s the dream developer Dominic Ciliberto of Gasport has for the Tuscarora Club property on Walnut Street, which he hopes to have partially up and running by the end of this year.
Ciliberto, the head of DLC Diversified Holdings, LLC, purchased the ancient three-story structure from Greater Lockport Development Corporation for $230,000 in 2018. He plans to convert the 15,000-square-foot building into a banquet facility and 18-room boutique hotel. There are currently no banquet halls downtown.
Asked why he purchased the old “T Club,” Ciliberto said, “I’ve been in real estate for more than 15 years and I just loved the property ... It’s a beautiful building and it has some nice incentives with it.”
Shortly after he purchased the building at 128 Walnut St., GLDC agreed to assist Ciliberto in its development with a $500,000 Restore NY grant.
Two years ago, New York State Lt. Gov Kathy Hochul announced that redevelopment of the Tuscarora building would get $800,000 in state Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) funds, on top of Ciliberto’s planned $1.5 million investment. Also working in Ciliberto’s favor is a 10-year Payment In Lieu of Taxes agreement, approved by the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, that saves Ciliberto about $315,000 in property, sales and mortgage taxes.
Contractors recently finished removing asbestos from walls throughout the building. Now they’re starting to patch the roof, according to Ciliberto.
“We’re at the very beginning stages. Our plans are to try and keep as much of what’s here, just update the décor and flooring,” he said. “The contractors are super busy. Asbestos remediation started early in 2020 and that took months to get completed. We need to get the roof redone. That’s the next thing — get the building dry and then putting it back together room by room. We’re hoping in the next six to eight months to get this first floor banquet room available for events like weddings.”
Ciliberto said he’s also entertaining the possibility of securing a permanent tenant on the first floor as well as creating a bridal suite.
The original building was raised as an inn in the mid-19th century and decades later was repurposed as the Lockport Wheelmen Club house before being renamed the Tuscarora Club. It remained in continuous operation from 1911 to 2007, when the club disbanded. The building later became the home of a restaurant and catering facility known as the Tuscarora Inn.