Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Retail Reader: Niagara Falls, N.Y.-Area Mall Gets Local Ownership, New Name

Title:Niagara Falls, N.Y.-Area Mall Gets Local Ownership, New Name
Authors:Lisa Haarlander
Source:Buffalo News, The (NY); 01/27/2004

Jan. 27--For the first time in its 32-year history, the Summit Park
Mall in Wheatfield is about to come under local ownership.

The new owners expect to sign a contract today to buy the mall for $5
million. The new owners plan to give the mostly vacant shopping center
$100 million worth of improvements and additions, plus a new name --
Destination Niagara USA.

"A lot of people who come to Niagara Falls don't stay the night
because there's not a lot to do, especially for families," said Samuel
J. Savarino, one of the partners in Niagara Falls Attractions and
Entertainment, the company buying Summit Park. "This gives them a
reason to stay on this side of the border."

While shopping will be a key part of Destination Niagara USA, the
complex would also have an aquatic center leased to Wheatfield, a
three-rink ice arena, year-round Christmas Around the World store and
exhibit, and a 200-room hotel with indoor water park by the end of

More tentative plans call for a planetarium with a Challenger Center
and a 150,000-square-foot conference center. The mall's anchors,
Sears, Toys "R" Us and the Bon-Ton, will remain.

Howard Hurst, a Toronto businessman, is the head of Niagara Falls
Attractions and Entertainment. As chairman and president of
York-Trillium Development Group he built and manages several
properties including the York Mills Centre in Toronto, a 1.5
million-square-foot retail, office and transportation center.

Savarino, president and CEO of Savarino Construction Services Corp. in
Amherst, and Hurst are also principals in the Niagara Falls Medical
Properties Corp., which will build an expanded emergency room and
cardiac center for Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

They decided to buy the 70-percent vacant Summit Park Mall because
they feel it has the potential to become a family recreation and
entertainment destination.

Of the 1,130 malls in the country, 36 are in some stage of being
redeveloped for a use other than a mall, according to the
International Council of Shopping Centers. Some centers were
demolished; others turned into office space or open-air lifestyle

The Summit Park Mall may benefit from its proximity to the Niagara
Falls International Airport. The Niagara Frontier Transportation
Authority has endorsed spending $23 million to build a new terminal
and is now searching for ways to fund the project. A new terminal
could lead to more people flying into the airport to visit Niagara
Falls or Canada.

"We feel this will become the new commercial hub of the area and the
mall will be at the center point of that hub," Hurst said.

However, upstate New York has seen its share of projects that have not

-- E-Zone, a $137 million domed amusement park on Buffalo's waterfront
that died for lack of private investment.

-- Destiny USA, a $2.2 billion entertainment and retail complex in
Syracuse that couldn't get state approval for $630 million in
incentives and tax breaks.

-- AquaFalls, a $50 million underground aquarium near the Rainbow
Bridge that is still a hole in the ground more than four years after
being proposed.

One reason Hurst and Savarino believe Destination Niagara USA with its
$100 million price tag has a better chance of succeeding is that it
needs less public assistance and already has the tax breaks it needs.

Wheatfield Supervisor Timothy E. Demler helped secure the town's
approval to freeze the property's tax assessment. The Niagara County
Industrial Development Agency is giving tax abatements to improvements
to the property that could total $1.2 million during the next 15
years. The Niagara County legislature waived more than $150,000 in
late fees and interest on back property taxes. The current owner James
Anthony of Oberlin Plaza One in Raleigh, N.C., paid more than $550,000
in back taxes earlier this month.

Also working in Summit Park's favor is the possibility that most of
the Lockport Mall may be demolished to make room for a Wal-Mart
supercenter. Some tenants have already inquired about relocating to
Summit Park, Hurst said.

The Seneca Niagara Casino is also bringing more tourists, giving
places such as Destination Niagara USA a chance to keep them in the

"There's no place in the region that has this much parking and is this
close to an airport," Hurst said. "It's close to the casino but far
enough way that it is its own area. ... The casino by itself isn't
going to change this area. What's going to change is keeping tourists
on this side of the border."


To see more of The Buffalo News, N.Y., or to subscribe to the
newspaper, go to http://www.buffalonews.com.

(c) 2004, The Buffalo News, N.Y. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune
Business News. WMT,


Source: Buffalo News, The (NY), Jan 27, 2004

Courtesy of EBSCOHost

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