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Developers sought for Power City Building in Falls

The Power City Building, one of the few remaining architectural examples that predates the downtown urban renewal period in the Falls, has become available for redevelopment as diverse as retail stores, offices, a financial center, loft apartments, a boutique hotel, restaurant or other uses that a developer may propose.

USA Niagara Development Corp. is issuing a request for proposals today from developers interested in taking over the vacant four-story building at 225 Old Falls St., at Third Street.

Promotional materials said the last tenant, a student loan processing center called ACS, outgrew the space.

The development corporation said the building's private owner, Anwal Properties Partnership, had offered it for sale for $2.5 million or for rent at an annual base of $270,600. It listed the owner contact as Anthony A. Grasole of Lewiston, a partner in Anwal Properties.

Officials stressed, however, that potential developers must work directly with USA Niagara Development and not with other parties and that proposals would be accepted only from principals, not from brokers.

Potential bidders will be invited to tour the site at 1 p.m. April 20, and the owner will host an open house from 8 a.m. to noon May 4. Those wishing to attend the site tour must contact USA Niagara.

The development corporation also stressed that its request for proposals is not an offer, and any participation by USA Niagara or the Empire State Development Corp. would be subject to a future development agreement.

Proposals must be submitted by May 14, and a developer is expected to be designated by June 18.

Objectives of the project are to "contribute to a lively, urbane setting . . and increase in street-level interaction," expand the availability of goods, services and entertainment available to visitors and residents, permit the private sector to create jobs, increase the tax base and support investment in Niagara Falls, stabilize and preserve the value of the site, encourage further development nearby and return the site to a productive and self-sustaining use.

The masonry and stone building was built in 1923 as a one-story structure for what then was called the Bank of Niagara. The original bank vaults remain in the basement.

The former Power City Trust Bank acquired the building in 1931 and added a three-story addition in a style that was consistent with the original construction. The building was the headquarters of both the Bank of Niagara and Power City Trust.

The building has been renovated many times, most recently in 2001 when the last tenant took occupancy. In 2007, a $200,000 facade improvement project restored the exterior north and east walls facing Old Falls Street and Third Street. That project received a $50,000 grant from USA Niagara.

Through a series of acquisitions, mergers and name changes, Power City Bank has become part of today's HSBC Bank USA. The building itself also had been used as an office of Fleet Bank.

e-mail: rbaldwin@buffnews.com

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