Not Main Place Mall, but the concrete bunker known as Rainbow Centre in downtown Niagara Falls, NY. Niagara County Community College’s Hospitality, Tourism, Culinary Arts Institute will anchor the revamped complex after a multi-million dollar renovation. Baltimore-based Cordish Cos., which let the prime property stagnate for years, agreed to donate the site to the college.
One of the final pieces to the financing puzzle (mostly public money) fell into place last night when the Niagara County Legislature agreed to take title to one-third of the mall. The rest of the facility will be marketed to tenants by USA Niagara Development Corp, a state agency created to spur investment in Niagara Falls.
From the Niagara Gazette:
“There have been many, many (unkept) promises made in Niagara Falls the past decade. I assure you this isn’t one of them,” [Legislator John] Ceretto said. “This could be a game-changer for downtown Niagara Falls and it puts no burden on the county. … It’s a win-win. We’re moving forward.”
The college’s plan is to relocate its hospitality and tourism program, and the culinary institute, to downtown Niagara Falls for “real life” training and experience. Classrooms, lecture halls and cooking labs will be developed; a student-run restaurant and pastry/deli facility will be operated with the goal of making them profitable enterprises. Within the center, Barnes & Noble will open a bookstore and the Niagara Wine Trail will operate a wine store. Previously, [NCCC President James] Klyczek spoke of the winemakers being positioned to teach students about their craft.
The approved resolution, co-sponsored by Falls Legislator Vincent Sandonato, says the county will take title to one-third of the mall, the southern section, for the new site of NCCC’s Hospitality and Tourism Center and its largest component, the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute.
The price tag on the Hospitality & Tourism school relocation has ballooned to $26 million from a ballpark estimate of $13 million earlier this year. Part of the reason is USA Niagara Development will put $9 million into gutting the mall space and rehabbing the parking ramp that’s attached to it. School development costs are now estimated at $17 million.