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Niagara County panel approves culinary institute cost increase

The price tag of the Niagara County Community College culinary institute has risen to $30.6 million, but NCCC President James P. Klyczek says the college -- and the state -- have it covered.

Tuesday, the County Legislature's Administration Committee approved the $4.3 million increase in the price tag for the project, but the county's cost for the project remains at $1.5 million, the amount the Legislature originally agreed to supply.

Klyczek said, "We think we'll be able to generate additional funds from local donors, local foundations."

And that money will be eligible for matching funds from the state, he said.

Another source of local money that Albany will match was $1.27 million from Seneca Niagara Casino revenue, Klyczek said.

So far, local foundations have donated about $1.7 million toward the project to convert part of the former Rainbow Centre Mall in downtown Niagara Falls into a culinary training center that may serve as many as 1,000 students when it opens next fall.

A state match that didn't cost anyone around here anything was more than $5 million in state money that matched the appraised value of the 90,000 square feet, or one-third of the mall, to which the county took title, Klyczek said.

Last year, the Legislature approved the deal with a price tag of $26.33 million.

Klyczek said overruns occurred in interior demolition in the mall, which he said has now been completed, along with asbestos and mold abatement.

He said an advertising blitz is coming in January and February to recruit students for the culinary arts program, but he said much of that will be out of state.

Because of the heavy publicity the project received in the planning stages, Klyczek said NCCC has been receiving inquiries from prospective students for the program for a couple of years.

The target date is Aug. 15 to receive a temporary certificate of occupancy for the center, with classes slated to begin Sept. 1.

The project will include several classrooms, a student-run restaurant, bakery and deli, a culinary-themed bookstore, a large teaching kitchen, offices and a couple of incubator spots for tourism-related businesses.