State announces awards for county projects

New York City-based Metropolis Management Properties is proposing the conversion of the old St. Mary’s Hospital in Niagara Falls to a 200-bed, four-star hotel focused on an international clientele. State officials announced Tuesday the award of $2.23 million in economic development dollars to be used to support streetscaping improvements and blight removal on Sixth and Seventh streets between Walnut Avenue and Niagara Street as part of the redevelopment of the former hospital property at 515 6th St.James Neiss/staff photographer

Several projects and organizations in Niagara County will share in the award of $66 million in economic development funding announced by state officials on Tuesday. 

The Aquarium of Niagara, the Lock Tender Tribute project and an effort to revitalize the former St. Mary’s Hospital property on Sixth Street in Niagara Falls were among the projects earmarked for state funding through the latest round of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative. 

As a whole, Western New York received $66 million of the more than $763 million awarded through the program statewide.  

Established in 2011 as a centerpiece of the governor’s strategy to jumpstart the economy and create jobs, the Regional Councils replaced the state’s old top-down approach to economic development with one that is community-based and performance-driven. The initiative empowers communities, business and academic leaders, as well as members of the public in each region of the state, to develop strategic plans specifically tailored to their region’s unique strengths and resources to create jobs, improve quality of life and grow the economy. 

“Over the last eight years, we have implemented a vision to move New York State’s economy forward by allowing communities to make strategic investments to help grow their local economies and reenergize and develop their unique regions,” Cuomo said. “Regional-based economic development is vital for maintaining New York’s thriving, prosperous economy. I congratulate all of the winners of this year’s REDC awards and look forward to working together to build a stronger New York for generations to come.”

A total of 12 projects were awarded funds, including the Aquarium of Niagara which will receive $273,000 to construct three new interactive touch pools at its main entrance. 

Another $2.23 million will be used to support streetscaping improvements and blight removal on 6th and 7th streets between Walnut Avenue and Niagara Street in Niagara Falls as part of the redevelopment of the former St. Mary’s Hospital at 515 6th St.

In Lockport, $125,000 will be used to support the effort to honor the iconic 19th-century photograph of lock tenders on the steps of the old Flight of Five locks. The project involves the creation of 14 life-sized bronze sculptures of those same lock tenders. They will be placed on the steps of the Flight of Five, which is undergoing restoration and rehabilitation efforts in the city.

Funds were also dedicated to projects in other Niagara County communities, including Lewiston, Royalton, Somerset, Middleport and Wilson. 

For a complete list of projects awarded state dollars under the program, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov/sites/default/files/2018-12/2018REDCAwardBooklet.pdf.

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