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New renovations, investments in Third Street aim to draw in more tenants to apartments in Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS – A wave of new investment is expected to bring more apartment living back to Third Street.

Seventeen units at four properties are either being renovated or have recently completed renovations.

When done, the number of apartments on the street will have more than doubled in less than two construction seasons, said Seth A. Piccirillo, director of the city’s Department of Community Development.

“We’re pretty excited about all this stuff happening at once,” Piccirillo said.

All of the units are on the second-floor of the two-story buildings, many of which still have vacant storefronts at street level.

At the corner of Third and Ferry Avenue, above the former Unc’s Bar, a pair of large, two-bedroom apartments are ready to hit the market.

The property, where the last tenant moved out after a fire in January 2014, is owned by Paul Stephen through 223 Ferry Ave Partners LLC. He bought it for $235,000 in July 2013, according to city property records.

One of the units is about 1,550 square feet, while the other is close to 1,350 square feet. The owner is looking for rent of $1,100 per month for each unit.

Those sizes will make the apartments the largest in the market, while that price will eclipse the current top of the market, which is roughly $800 to $900, Piccirillo said.

Cataract Development Corp. recently renovated eight units at 435 Third, while another three units at 539 Main, at the corner of Main and Third, are in the middle of being renovated. Cataract purchased both properties for $5,500 each, according to city property records.

The building at 435 Third had been on the verge of demolition, Piccirillo said. Six of the units have already been rented after being on the market less than two months.

Down at the corner, at 539 Main, a two-bedroom, a one-bedroom and a studio apartment are getting rehabilitated. The units, where work started in April, have all new plumbing, heating and air conditioning.

At 460 Third, there are four 1,000-square-foot units in a property that has undergone about $200,000 in work so far, said Craig Avery, who owns the property with John Giusiana.

The units were unoccupied when they bought the property for $175,000 in July 2013. Renovation has included new forced air and air conditioning systems, new kitchens, refinished trim and floors, along with bathroom upgrades.

Three of the units are available, and the owners are looking to fetch $800 per month in rent plus utilities.

Several of those projects have received funding support from the city.

Under the Niagara Falls City Development Corp.’s market rate apartment matching grant program, developers can get $10,000 per unit, and up to $40,000 per building, provided they put up matching funds.

The properties at 435 and 460 Third, as well as 539 Main, are participating.

Piccirillo said other grant funding from the state and National Grid used to demolish a dozen buildings on Fourth Street have contributed to the progress in the neighborhood.

He said he expects other noteworthy purchases in the street in the coming year.

“The most important next step is new commercial tenants,” Piccirillo said. “Now that we have more people living downtown, there needs to be more local attractions for both residents and tourists.”