A pair of 20-somethings are working to do what others have tried with mixed success for many years: bring new life to downtown Niagara Falls. Nirel Patel, 26, and Matt Green, 22, are planning a pair of hospitality projects along the Buffalo Avenue corridor. They envision the projects as the first of many for their newly-formed development company and say they are investments in a city that’s finally on an upswing.
First up for Patel and Green’s Element Development Group is redevelopment of the venerable Niagara Club located at 24 Buffalo Avenue overlooking the Niagara Reservation State Park and the upper rapids of the Niagara River. Built in 1865 as a private residence for Dexter R. Jerauld, the building housed the Niagara Club, a private social club, beginning in 1901 until its closing in 1996. It was used as a banquet facility for several years before being purchased by Patel’s father in 2009.
Nirel’s father, B.F. Patel, drew up plans to open an upscale restaurant at the site but the project succumbed to a poor economy and was leased out in the temporarily. Nirel and Green are purchasing the property from B.F. Patel and are dusting off reuse plans.
Next week they are hosting a New Years’ Eve party at the site. The event will have a ‘roaring 20’s style’ theme with two premium open bars, gourmet food stations catered by Orazio’s, deserts by the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, entertainment by the Ladies First Jazz Combo and DJ David Panonessa, and private viewing of fireworks at midnight from the heated tent on the upper terrace. Tickets are $115 per person and the event starts at 8:30 PM (tickets, info here).
Patel and Green are working to find a restaurateur or an executive chef to partner with to open a fine dining restaurant in the building. Long-term plans for the second and third floors call for creation of a 10-room boutique hotel.
“For over 90 years the Niagara Club was a shining gem of prosperity in Downtown Niagara Falls,” says Green. “Today it exists only as a fraction of the grandeur it once held. We are excited to have the opportunity to peel back the layers and polish this gem up once again.”
Nirel Patel returned to Niagara Falls early last year to assist his father with the renovation of the Moore Business Forms building at John Daly Boulevard and Buffalo Avenue into a hotel.
Patel met Green when Green applied to work at the family’s Econolodge on Rainbow Blvd. Green, with a degree from UB in Architecture and Planning, has been spearheading various grassroots efforts in Niagara Falls while working in real estate since he was 18.
Green and Patel’s shared vision and optimism led the two to form Element Development Group. They want to build upon the recent investments in the Niagara Reservation and Falls Street, the Seneca Casino, and other public and private sector projects in downtown Niagara Falls. Both believe the time is now to invest in Niagara Falls especially along the Buffalo Avenue corridor where over 500 hotel rooms are planned and under development.
“I returned to Niagara Falls after eight years in Los Angeles,” says Patel. “Being part of its rebirth feels only natural to me as the exposure to a metropolitan city has given me the unique perspective on potential redevelopment in Niagara Falls. The Niagara Club is a perfect platform launch Element Development’s creative energies.”
Adds Patel, “We aim to reestablish the Niagara Club into a world class destination honoring the legacy and majesty of the falls while offering a unique icon deserving of the name.”
Element Development Group is also consulting on the adaptive reuse of the vacant Moore Business Forms building at 900 Buffalo Avenue into an 82-room Courtyard by Marriott. The $12 million project includes an addition of a third floor and a fourth floor, 5,000 sq. ft. penthouse. Work on that project will begin early next year.
“Element Development is proof of a new way of thinking in Niagara Falls,” says Niagara Falls Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo. “Patel and Green see a vacant building as an opportunity to create something special for their hometown and millions of visitors. That’s true, local entrepreneurial spirit.”
“Their young age is a secondary story,” says Piccirillo. “They have a creative vision and the will to grind it out, see it through, and ignore negativity. There are people twice their age that have not figured out how to do that yet.”
“Niagara Falls is more than potential; it’s my hometown,” says Green. “I am willing to do whatever it takes to see through its revival. The Niagara Club is just the beginning of many more great things to come.”
Get Connected: Element Development Group, 716.299.8877