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MALLS TOUR IS PLANNED FOR FALLS COUNCIL DEVELOPER SEEKS TO QUELL DOUBTS

If seeing is believing, Benderson Niagara Associates wants to make believers out of City Council members.

Benderson is planning to take them on a tour in mid-February of the developer's mall operations in other communities, hoping that seeing the projects in operation will help quell doubts about the benefits of the proposed $111 million factory outlet shopping mall the company wants to build in the city.

The Council reaffirmed its support of the project last Monday by defeating a resolution by freshman Councilman Jacob A. Palillo that sought to repeal approvals the Council gave the project last month before Palillo took office.

Mayor Michael C. O'Laughlin said the purpose of the tour is "for the Council to go and have an opportunity to see other Benderson developments and factory outlet type operations that might be applied to our place.

"I think it's an educational process, and I support it," O'Laughlin said.

Larry Krizan, the city's coordinator of development services, said the tour will allow Council members to see other mall operations and talk to officials from other communities about the malls' impact.

The trip is scheduled for Feb. 17, but the exact itinerary hasn't been set yet, Krizan said.

O'Laughlin said he will meet with the Council soon to update it on progress on the proposed mall.

City officials are still seeking about $27 million in financing for the public portion of the project, which includes acquiring property and relocating residents from the 100-acre mall site planned for the East Side, bounded by Niagara Street, Portage Road, Quay Street and Buffalo Avenue.

So far, the city has obtained a $4 million urban development action grant for the project.

O'Laughlin and other officials were in Albany last week talking to potential lenders, but no agreements were reached.

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