I was early to the party on the news that the state was planning to buy up Smokin’ Joe Anderson’s land in Niagara Falls. I knew back in February: about a week before the Niagara Report hinted at it.
Of course, when it broke a week ago, I didn’t bother writing about it. I’m not exactly a hard-hitting news site. Nevertheless, I’m putting my two cents into the deal.
New York State now has a massive control of downtown Niagara Falls, and about $600,000 in tax dollars is about to (temporarily) go away. The state is already looking for RFPs on the land, and some of the spots are quality real estate (pun about the Quality hotel completely intended).
What can the state make with all this land? Hopefully anything but a hotel.
Empire State Development seems to have a thing for hotels in Niagara Falls. It makes sense: room demand is high, so build for the demand. However, we are an incredibly seasonal attraction, and these hotels sit empty for at least half of the year.
The hotel market in the Falls is truly a peak saturation, which is why you’re seeing the brand-new Hyatt Place suing the city of Niagara Falls claiming that the city has over-assessed its tax value.
What Niagara Falls really needs are indoor attractions. My never-ending quest for Wonder Falls is at the top of the “needed attractions” list. Visitors have a place to stay, and they have some decent places to eat (although we’re not perfect at telling guests about these restaurants, which aren’t in the downtown core). Now, we just need to give visitors something to do, especially after freezing at the brink of the Falls.
Now, there are people out there with ideas. I know that for a fact. I even have some ideas, if this site is any indicator. We just need to convince investors to fund these ideas. We need to remind everyone that this is Niagara Falls.
We don’t even need instant attractions. Events are an attraction in their own right. Think of Jingle Falls. It’s predecessor was the largest holiday celebration in North America: let’s aim for that mark again!
In the long run, I can’t wait to see what comes out of this deal. I’m sure it’ll even push some long-term land holders (*cough* NFR *cough*) to start developing their land. With the Robert Moses Parkway finally being torn down, a lot of this land is about to look a whole lot nicer to investors.