NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — North Tonawanda, "The Lumber City", once the largest port on the Great Lakes during the height of the Erie Canal. Now North Tonawanda is looking to emerge from the pandemic by recapturing recent momentum in downtown development.
"The last two years have been really tough, but we know there are a lot of things in the works" said David Fillenwarth, the Executive Director of the Riviera Theater.
Over the last two decades a number of public and private investments have fueled a renewed energy in North Tonawanda's downtown area with new businesses and restaurants popping up throughout North Tonawanda's historic core on Webster Street.
"We do over 100 concerts a year, live events, comedy, a couple of plays here and there," Fillenwarth said. "I think our WNY audience has really embraced that."
"This area faced revitalization over the past 20 years which really started with the redevelopment of gateway harbor, that is our waterfront area," said Laura Wilson, executive director of the Lumber City Development Corporation. "That was really the catalyst which brought businesses to our downtown core, and we are still using that waterfront to continue that momentum for future development."
Recent investments in North Tonawanda Include the use of $2.5 million from the smart growth community fund to help make the downtown area more walkable and attractive.
"We feel very optimistic about what is going to happen in the future, and we know this theater will be here for future generations to enjoy, we're kind of proud of that," Fillenwarth said.