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Downtown Niagara Falls challenge to spur tourism

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Buffalo: Downtown Niagara Falls challenge to spur tourism
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After Governor Cuomo assured redevelopment in Western New York with a one billion dollar investment, the City of Niagara Falls is ready to hit the ground running with initiatives. YNN’s Antoinette DelBel has more on plans that include an international business challenge to make downtown more economically viable.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. - The “Downtown Niagara Falls Challenge” - that’s what Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster is calling his state-aided initiative to boost tourism and revitalize downtown.

“It’s designed to be transformative - that is to change the way things are here in Niagara Falls, specifically in the downtown tourism area, forever,” said Dyster.

Dyster said the city will begin requesting proposals this winter and said the challenge will allow developers to collaborate and compete for a piece of the area's real estate.

"We're not just looking for someone to design a beautiful building,” he said. “We're looking for teams that include designers and architects, developers and operators, who would be willing to come into downtown Niagara Falls and to do a signature development."

Plans for additional development downtown came after Governor Andrew Cuomo promised last year to invest one billion dollars in Western New York.

Although there’s no word yet on how the money will be divided among cities, a portion of the Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan will be set aside for tourism in the Cataract City, specifically Niagara Falls State Park.

"The area that was identified in the plan is the area within walking distance of the State Park. I think we said something like a three-block radius," Dyster said.

"Anytime you're also promoting the destination, you want a destination that is exciting and is refreshed," said John Percy, the president and CEO of Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation.

Percy said tourism has fared well the past two years, with hotel occupancy up six to seven percent, but it's important to have new growth.

"New, refreshed, redeveloped, redesigned, rehabilitated - all those words are essential in economic development," said Percy.

And Dyster said the downtown challenge is a five-year plan that he started working on about a year ago, and is now ready to get the ball rolling by the end of winter.

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