Improving Critical Commercial Areas in Niagara Falls

Improving Critical Commercial Areas in Niagara Falls

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image courtesy of Niagara Falls Review

Community Improvement Plans (CIP) provide a variety of financial incentive programs to encourage development/redevelopment in key areas. As part of an ongoing series, I will be assessing the CIPs of specific areas within the Greater Horseshoe.

The focus of CIPs in Niagara Falls includes the downtown core, historic Drummondville, and brownfield areas. Today, I will focus on the revitalization efforts for downtown Niagara Falls, as it possesses a long-term opportunity to enhance the commercial character of the City.

The downtown area of Niagara Falls represents an older business area of the City, further removed from the more developed Fallsview area. Downtown Niagara Falls has been in a state of decline, both economically and physically. A healthy, viable downtown is vital to the economic health of a community and the City of Niagara Falls is committed to revitalizing the downtown area. The City’s participation is key to stimulating commercial activity in the downtown core and the City has developed a community improvement plan to guide public sector investments and encourage private sector investment. The CIP is broken down into five programs, with four focusing on the commercial sector.

Commercial Building Loan Program

Provides 0% interest loan to promote maintenance and improvements of commercial buildings in the downtown core.

Repairs eligible under this program include:

  • Entrance modifications
  • Replacement of roof
  • Structural repairs
  • Upgrading of plumbing and electrical services

Commercial Building Facade Grant Program

Provides financial incentive in the form of a grant to promote facade restoration of commercial and mixed use downtown buildings. The program involves a grant for 50% of the cost of the facade restoration with a cap of $10,000 per property.

Repairs eligible under this program include:

  • replacement of store front (including doors and windows
  • replacement of awnings/canopies
  • upgrading of lighting fixtures
  • installation of signage

Revitalization Grant Program

Provides financial incentive to help offset increased property taxes that will result from the rehabilitation of downtown commercial properties. The program involves the applicant paying for the cost of the project. The City will then reimburse the applicant in the form of an annual grant. The grant is payable for up to 10 years and the amount of grant decreased over the 10 year period, which cannot exceed the cost of the project.

Development Charge Exemption Program

An incentive program designed to promote development in downtown Niagara Falls which exempts development from 75% of the required development charge on commercial and mixed-use development.

 
Providing incentive to repair and develop the downtown area will help to attract investors and tenants. Attracting residents and businesses to the area remains the focus of the City of Niagara Falls and their commitment to the revitalization of its downtown area is a positive indicator for potential investors and developers. To learn more about Niagara Falls, read my blog on their Brownfield improvement program.