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Possible sites for Culinary Arts Institute narrowed to 3

Possible sites for an estimated $10 million Niagara County Community College Culinary Arts Institute have been narrowed to three -- two in downtown Niagara Falls and one in Lewiston.

George Bishop, executive vice president of academic affairs at NCCC, confirmed Monday that the consultant's examination of 30 possible sites throughout Niagara County has been narrowed to two here and one in Lewiston. He declined to identify the locations.

In July, Foit-Albert Associates, which NCCC hired to do a three-phase feasibility study on the Culinary Arts Institute, said the college was considering locating the facility in one of the county's three cities or Lewiston.

The program would feature food services, baking and pastry arts.

On Dec. 4, the Niagara Falls City Council passed a resolution in support of locating the institute downtown.

Councilman Sam Fruscione said Monday that he has heard from some NCCC culinary students that one site is the Conference Center Niagara Falls at Old Falls and Third streets, which has a large modern kitchen and dining facilities. "I think it would be a perfect spot," he said.

Robert Sanders, an associate with Foit-Albert, declined to comment Monday other than to say that a "Phase II package" has been submitted to NCCC.

Bishop said the Phase II package contains a lot of information, including financial estimates and conceptual drawings that will be submitted to the NCCC board of trustees.

The board's next meeting is Jan. 17, but the agenda won't necessarily include the packet on the Culinary Institute, Bishop said. There is still a Phase III to be completed as part of Foit-Albert's feasibility study and that is likely to take several more months, he added.

North Tonawanda officials have been hoping that NCCC might locate the Culinary Institute in their city.

On Monday, word came that the former Col. Payne Community Center might be converted into a culinary school.

Michael Wachowicz, owner of several city properties, including a wholesale building supply company, Miris Cash & Carry on River Road, bought the former elementary school at 460 Wheatfield St. last week for $101,000.

Wachowicz, of Savannah, Ga., a semi-retired businessman, said the two-story building might be converted into a culinary school.

Asked if NCCC might be interested, Wachowicz said, "You never know." He declined further comment.

North Tonawanda officials have been hoping that NCCC might locate the Culinary Institute in their city.

Monday, word came that the former Col. Payne Community Center might be converted into a culinary school.

Michael Wachowicz, owner of several city properties, including a wholesale building supply company, Miris Cash & Carry on River Road, bought the former elementary school at 460 Wheatfield St. last week for $101,000.

Wachowicz, of Savannah, Ga., a semiretired businessman, said the two-story building might be converted into a culinary school.

Asked if NCCC might be interested, Wachowicz said, "You never know." He declined to comment further.

Wachowicz's successful bid came at the Dec. 7 sale of foreclosed properties that netted the city $319,900, according to City Treasurer Leslie Stolzenfels.

The community center, which houses the North Tonawanda Youth Center, was added to the biennial sale of tax-foreclosed properties because the city wanted to get rid of the 57,000-square-foot building that needs costly repairs. It also has paid about $80,000 annually in utility costs on the building that until recently also housed Head Start and offices for the Niagara Community Action Program.

The city recently rezoned the building from residential to residential-commercial to make it more attractive to bidders. The rezoning allows multiple uses beyond a school, including offices, housing and a small hotel.

The city assessed the building at $100,000.

News Niagara Bureau reporter Gail Franklin contributed to this report.

e-mail: lwinchester@buffnews.com

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