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State greenlights demolition of Niagara Falls snow park, motel

The state development agency for Niagara Falls awarded contracts Wednesday for the demolition of two structures it acquired last year and chose an architectural firm to design the makeover of the old Rainbow Centre Mall into a retail attraction.

The USA Niagara Development Corp., meeting by teleconference, agreed to pay Regional Environmental Demolition of Wheatfield $663,000 to tear down the Snow Park at 427 First St. and the Rodeway Inn, a motel, at 492 Main St.

The contract calls for the work to be substantially complete by May 15.

Both sites were among the 31 downtown Niagara Falls parcels the state bought from Tuscarora Indian Reservation businessman Joseph "Smokin' Joe" Anderson for $15 million in 2019. The Snow Park site was the largest of the group.

The Snow Park was built in 2009 as a venue offering outdoor winter sports year-round. Its sledding and tubing hill will be torn down and all foundations on the 2.8-acre site will be removed.

The city will continue to operate a public parking lot on the premises until USA Niagara comes up with a redevelopment plan.

The Rodeway Inn was a 23-room, two-story motel. It will be torn down along with an adjoining one-story retail and office building on the same parcel.

Also Wednesday, the agency hired Marvel Architects of New York City for $310,000 to design the planned Rainbow Centre makeover within six months.

When the Wonder Falls water park project for the old mall was officially canceled in December, USA Niagara proposed cutting a covered east-west pedestrian street through the north side of the mall. Street-level commercial space was envisioned along both sides of the pedestrian street and also on Rainbow Boulevard and First Street, which border the building.

"Marvel’s approach to redesigning the former mall will bring a fresh perspective to this key downtown property," USA Niagara President Anthony Vilardo said.

"For too long the Rainbow Centre has been an impediment to development and acted as a barrier between the city and its waterfront. Marvel has an impressive portfolio of adaptive reuse projects, and we look forward to bringing a great project to Niagara Falls," Vilardo said.

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