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NIAGARA FALLS: City reverses condemnation of One Niagara

Former AquaFalls site still has to go before the city’s Planning Board for approval

By Denise Jewell
Niagara Gazette

31 August 2006

The city issued a certificate of compliance to the former Occidental Chemical office building on Rainbow Boulevard Wednesday, nearly two weeks after a city inspector condemned the nine-story glass building because of several code violations.

Guy Bax, director of the Niagara Falls Inspections Department, said the city granted the certificate after an inspection showed workers had made upgrades to the building to correct electrical and fire safety violations the city had previously found.

The certificate allows the first floor of the building, now named One Niagara, to officially reopen to the public with the condition that the building’s owner seeks approval for changes on the site from the city’s Planning Board.

Developer Frank Parlato Jr. had continued to allow the public to access vendors and food stands in the building during the last two weeks despite condemned signs posted on the building.

Parlato said Thursday that he plans to continue working on the site, but may have to close the building for the winter if he cannot meet the state’s heating regulations or receive a variance from the requirements.

A bar in the first floor of the building is slated to open this weekend, Parlato said.

“We’re going to move upward,” he said. “It’s my expectation that we’re going to shoot for the ninth floor next and create a stunning restaurant.”

The building has been at the center of a code controversy since a previous developer dug a 40-foot hole on the site for a plan to build an underground aquarium. Parlato purchased the building through a limited liability corporation named One Niagara in December 2004 through a deal facilitated by G. Steven Pigeon, former Erie County Democratic chairman.

Parlato filled the hole, but still faces citations for violating three city ordinances last year for operating a paid parking lot and allowing vendors to operate on his property.

Parlato’s attorney, Paul Grenga, worked out a “stipulation of settlement” in April with the city that allowed the developer to open the first floor of the building to the public without first gaining all of the required city approvals.

Parlato said he expects to go before the city’s Planning Board next month with a site plan application. He had previously submitted plans in May, but a memorandum from the city’s senior planner to the board in August said they were withdrawn because they did “not comply with the city’s codified ordinances.”

 

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