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Falls restaurateur proposes carousel on Rainbow Boulevard

A co-owner of the Como Restaurant is seeking city approval to put a carousel on a vacant Rainbow Boulevard parcel where a helium balloon once operated.

Restaurateur Louis Antonacci has signed a lease with a company controlled by Cordish Development Cos. of Baltimore to use a parcel at 310 Rainbow Blvd., and he wants to install a carousel on the site until the owner finds another use for the land, architect David Giusiana said.

Giusiana said Antonacci has wanted to install a carousel in the downtown area for several years.

Antonacci, who held a vending lease with the city to operate the West Mall before it was reconstructed this year, also plans to operate a small shop and takeout restaurant in a building that once housed the offices for the balloon ride.

The Planning Board on Wednesday postponed voting on the proposal until its next meeting. Board members said they wanted to see more details about the size and design of the carousel and a copy of Antonacci's lease agreement for the land before approving the site plan.

Giusiana said Antonacci does not plan to purchase the carousel until the proposal receives city approval.

He told the Planning Board that Antonacci's lease for the land is temporary and can be revoked if a "higher and better use comes along."

The land is owned by Rainbow Square Two Limited, a company controlled by Cordish Development. Cordish Development developed the Rainbow Centre mall and a nearby building that houses the Hard Rock Cafe.

Giusiana said the merry-go-round would likely shut down in the winter but would remain on the site. He said it would be more permanent than the type of carousel found at local festivals.

"It would be more than a temporary installation," Giusiana said.

Also included in the plans submitted to the Planning Board is a proposal to place an 80-foot Ferris wheel on the site, but Giusiana called the Ferris wheel "speculative" and said it would depend on the cost of installing such an attraction.

"That was purely a dream-case scenario," Giusiana said. "If you're going to put more stuff on the site, what would you do?"

Planning Board member Tim Polka said he was opposed to the plan to erect what could become a temporary amusement ride on the land. Other board members said they wanted more details before they made a decision.

"I'm in total disagreement with it," Polka said. "I think that corner has got to be fixed up and utilized the proper way."

In other business Wednesday, the Planning Board heard comments from three residents on a proposal by Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center to rezone residential properties near the hospital to make way for a parking lot. The hospital plans to tear down four houses and two garages on 10th Street near Walnut Avenue to build a surface parking lot with 39 spaces.

The residents expressed support for the parking lot but said they would like the hospital to do more to alleviate parking congestion in the neighborhood. "This has gone on for 20 years," said Arthur Garabedian of Lewiston, who owns a rental property on 10th Street. "Especially with the opening of the Heart Center across the street, the situation has gotten worse."

The Planning Board will vote on the proposal to rezone the properties at its next meeting Oct. 7.


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