State scraps plans for former Rainbow Centre Mall

Wonder Falls Resort "no longer economically feasible"

WBEN Newsroom
December 06, 2019 - 2:29 pm

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WBEN) - New York State is abandoning its grand plans for a Wonder Fall Resort in the City of Niagara Falls.

The project, which was first announced in 2013 with the hope of transforming the former Rainbow Centre Mall into a year-round luxurious resort. The $150 million resort, introduced as part of the Buffalo Billion, was supposed to transform the two-block area that was a former shopping mall into an indoor waterpark with 300 guest rooms, a 14-floor hotel tower, rooftop dining, spa, plus retail and restaurant. It was also supposed to pay homage to Nik Wallenda following his stunt in Niagara Falls that drew international attention.

Uniland Development Company was named the preferred developer to create the resort in 2014.

FLASHBACK: June 2019: Still no development at former Rainbow Centre Mall

State officials blame changes in the federal tax code as a reason why the project is no longer economically feasible.

Now, New York State is planning to turn it into a civic improvement project to create public access and walkability while also creating commercial opportunity and improve parking to support new and existing businesses. Empire State Development looks create access through the center of the building.

“The former Rainbow Centre mall presents a challenge for development, but it also has tremendous opportunities that we intend to take advantage of,” Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said in a statement.  “The City, in partnership with USA Niagara, will use what we learned from the ULI study to move forward and focus on urban design, accommodations, attractions and the modernization of parking resources in downtown Niagara Falls—which will result in a project that will be attractive for both residents and visitors.  We look forward to the implementation of the first phase of the alternative as outlined in the term sheet.”

Proposal requests for the design of the Rainbow Centre Mall will be issued on Monday.

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