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38 properties in Niagara Falls to be redeveloped in first-of-its-kind acquisition

Many long empty, boarded-up properties on North Main Street now have a new owner
Posted at 8:14 AM, Jun 19, 2019

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — A Buffalo-based private equity firm has acquired more than 200,000 square feet of land in northern Niagara Falls that is ripe for redevelopment.

“The acquisition and renovation of these properties mark the end of the beginning, and may be the most significant step forward that the City of Niagara Falls could take toward its future,” Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said in a statement Wednesday.

Blue Cardinal Capital has purchased 38 properties within the Main Street Business District, including the former Jenns Department Store, all of which is located in an Opportunity Zone - a designated area within a federal program designed to spur economic growth in distressed cities across America. Blue Cardinal Capital has been spending the past year securing investors who put their capital gains from previous investments into an Opportunity Zone Fund, which invests in Opportunity Zone development projects. It is the first reported purchase by an Opportunity Zone Fund in Upstate New York.

“We are excited to embark on the redevelopment and restoration of this historic neighborhood. The area around the Whirlpool Bridge and international rail crossing holds great promise,” said Bob Richardson, Blue Cardinal Capital Managing Partner.

Richardson believes Niagara Falls’ proximity to Toronto gives it a strategic bi-national advantage for companies willing to build their business in the Cataract City.

Few details have been given as to how long the restoration and redevelopment effort will take.

“The North End will hopefully see new shops, restaurants, grocery stores, galleries and more in the very near future,” said Andy Touma, Niagara Falls City Council Chairman in a statement.

In a news release, Blue Cardinal outlines that it plans to triage the buildings and start an immediate capital maintenance program to stabilize the buildings while a thorough evaluation of the best use for each property is completed.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly spent the day talking to Niagara Falls residents about what they think the future will mean with the new owner for the eyesore buildings.