Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Tourism projects to boost economy

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Buffalo: Tourism projects to boost economy
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The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency is considering assisting local developers with four tourism-related projects. YNN's Antoinette DelBel has more about the projects and how they're expected to create dozens of jobs and boost the economy.

NIAGARA COUNTY, N.Y. — A winery, an expansion of a cave boat ride company, a hotel conversion and a hotel renovation - the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency says all four projects are meant to spark tourism and spur economic development.

"It's all about trying to uplift Niagara County. It's all about trying to create jobs," said Michael Tucker, (R), City of Lockport mayor and NCIDA Chairman.

The IDA board says the projects will create approximately 50 new jobs and 20 seasonal and part-time jobs.

Local developers presented their projects to the IDA Wednesday, requesting tax abatements and tax relief through a PILOT.

Nirel Patel's company plans to bring in at least 30 new jobs by turning an old office building on Buffalo Avenue in the Falls into a Courtyard by Marriot hotel. Patel says the move would bring more than $3 million to the community.

"To put an upper, upscale hotel there at the entrance (of Niagara Falls) would basically raise the level of prestige for not only the city but also for the state park," he said.

Another upscale project in the Falls - remodeling the decades old Comfort Inn The Pointe, which developers say will bring construction jobs to the area.

"We're replacing windows; we're replacing air conditioning units. We're building new restrooms; we're building a new exercise room. With that, we'll have construction jobs on-site," said Tricia Mezhir, the hotel's general manager.

In Lockport, the deteriorating Old City Hall will be renovated and leased out to the Flight of Five Winery and other food and tourism retail businesses.

Geise Properties says it would bring in more than a million dollars for the city.

"They're going to distribute wines from the area. We're also going to renovate the building so that we can bring in other businesses that will bring other products from the area," said Dr. Scott Geise of Geise Properties.

Just a few feet away from Old City Hall and overlooking the Erie Canal sits a parking lot on Gooding Street, where the Lockport Cave and Underground Boat Ride company wants to build a more than 1,000 square foot visitor's center.

"It'll have public restrooms. It'll have the Lock overlook so we can see the Flight of Five (Erie Canal Locks). It will have a pavilion," said Clancy Burkwit, the Lockport Cave & Underground Boat Ride director.

The businesses will present their projects again at a public hearing next month.

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