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ELIA HARSHLY REBUKES DEVELOPERS FOR FAILURE TO LIVE UP TO PROMISES IN NIAGARA FALLS

Mayor Irene J. Elia on Tuesday told developers who had promised $20 million in development in the city by last month to stop talking about what they'll do and start doing it.

"I don't want any more dog and pony shows. We have to move forward in the city, with or without (Niagara Falls Redevelopment)," Elia told representatives of the development firm.

"What are you going to do? What is the one thing that we could look at that will be tangible in six months and we can tell the people, 'See, they were in good faith'?"

"And when you come back, we're going to give you all the help you need to do other projects," she said.

Elia forestalled a replay of a lengthy discussion on the Convention and Civic Center that had occurred between the City Council and Niagara Falls Redevelopment officials Monday. She said she wanted to talk about the company and the commitments it made to the city to invest $130 million in downtown development over eight years. The first $20 million was to be commenced by last Dec. 18.

Elia expressed her often-repeated position that the developers must have some visible, concrete development under way in six months.

Anthony Bergamo, chief executive officer of the redevelopment group, drew a distinction between "commencement" and "completion." Elia said she would accept "commencement" as long as it was concrete. The development group has made a case that it has invested $7 million here in planning and payroll. But Elia said it is "disheartening" to her and the community that "nothing has happened" yet.

Councilman Paul A. Dyster, who attended the meeting, said the mayor made the point well that Niagara Falls Redevelopment has to show tangible progress during this construction season.

Elia said the only revenue the group is generating here comes through its contract with the city at the Convention Center, where the development company collects a management fee and the salaries of the top three executives.

Bergamo said Elia has no idea how much the company is spending. Elia said that isn't the city's problem.

Bergamo said there were several development possibilities with "real viability." One that had been discussed in an earlier meeting that included Buffalo developer Carl P. Paladino could be the "first high-end construction in the city in many, many years," Bergamo said.

Bergamo said the group is working with developers from Canada on a race track plan; developers from Columbus, Ohio, on an entertainment center concept; and with Peter Max on developing a museum for the pop artist's works.

He said the Boxing Hall of Champions, which the group has been talking about since last summer, still is viable. Howard P. Milstein, Bergamo's supervisor and Niagara Falls Redevelopment's managing partner, owns the boxing memorabilia and is looking for a home for it, but no announcement as to a site or commencement of a project has been made.

Bergamo said he is talking with the principals who hold an option on the city-owned Wintergarden as a possible site for the boxing museum.

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