How Much Did Wonder Falls Cost New York?

State officials called off Rainbow Centre Mall renovation last week

Tom Puckett
December 10, 2019 - 4:00 am
Wonder Falls

Niagara Falls, NY (WBEN) After about five years, New York State pulled the plug on the Wonder Falls project at the former Rainbow Centre mall site in Niagara Falls. It was part of the Buffalo Billion, but the question is how much could it have cost the state?

The project was to become a year round luxury resort. But Assemblyman Angelo Morinello estimates the state lost little. "The artist rendering, other than an initial press conference, the only money I have been informed of being spent was $125,000 to Uniland for engineering and schismatic measurements," says Morinello. "If not, the state would have had to re-create those at a much higher cost." 

Morinello says he's pleased the project didn't work out. "I'm not saying we don't need a splash park, just not at the center of what we need," explains Morinello. "Niagara Falls has been desperate for a silver bullet. That is not how you build a small city with a great attraction. You need to hit singles and doubles and everything will fall into place." Morinello says you need a certain number of people to come to a major attraction, and he notes this one would have only catered to certain members of the population.

Morinello says the money was well spent. "It's not just giving money to a developer to walk away. We got value to obtain these documents and will save us a lot of time as we move forward," says Morinello.

Former State Senator George Maziarz estimates Uniland spent a bit more. "When I was in office, the development corporation spent hundreds of thousands of dollars," says Maziarz. 

He says he's not surprised the project failed. "Everything in Niagara Falls seems to be difficult. USA Niagara does not appear to be the savior they planned to be. They've lost their way," notes Maziarz. "I have great hopes for the next administration and with the Falls working with state lawmakers to change direction and work with private developers."



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