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"Smokin' Joe" Anderson's downtown empire is growing.

The Tuscarora entrepreneur -- who also owns the Wintergarden and holds a long-term lease to the East Mall -- recently bought the Quality Inn at 240 Rainbow Blvd. South for $3.1 million.

The purchase will give new energy to the area, said attorney Brian K. Meilleur, a principal in the newly formed company NFHotel, which acquired the property from Kitchener, Ont.,-based Vista Hospitality.

The 217-room hotel, which has a wedding chapel and meeting and banquet space, will continue to operate as usual with no immediate changes planned, said Meilleur.

Meilleur and Lewiston attorney Paul Grenga are both principals in the three limited liability companies that now control an important piece of the downtown area: East Mall Entertainment, which has the East Mall until 2009; Wintergarden Entertainment, which owns the Wintergarden; and NF Hotel.

Anderson is the managing partner of all three.

Grenga's mother, Elizabeth, also is a partner in Wintergarden Entertainment.

Anderson bought the Wintergarden -- a tropical greenhouse adjoining the hotel -- from the city last year.

Owning the two properties will help him establish a new entertainment district, Meilleur said.

"We will create events in the Wintergarden to support the hotel," and vice versa, he said.

The city also granted Anderson a long-term lease to the East Mall last year.

East Mall Entertainment pays the city $7,500 yearly rent and will pay $22,500 in 2009, the last year of the lease.

Anderson had promised to fill the tree-lined boulevard, which runs north from the Wintergarden to the Seneca Niagara Casino, with family-friendly entertainment, food and vendors by last summer.

About three or four kiosks for food and souvenirs were set up during the recent tourist season, but the development is not what many had hoped for.

The city is satisfied with how the mall has been operated, though, said Ralph Aversa, executive director of the Niagara Falls Economic Development Department.

The trees stay trimmed and are decorated with lights, the rent is paid on time, and Anderson's employees are paid above minimum wage, Aversa said.


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