NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK – Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on hand alongside local and state officials to mark the grand opening of the new $37 million DoubleTree by Hilton in Niagara Falls.
The ribbon cutting was held on Monday, Jan. 23 in the lobby of the new hotel, built on the site of the former Fallside Hotel and Conference Center.
The DoubleTree, the third hotel opened in Niagara Falls by the Merani Group, sits on prime real estate along the upper rapids of the Niagara River.
Mayor Paul Dyster, who spoke at the event, was quick to point out the importance of Cuomo’s investment in the city.
“Before the governor took office, hope was hard to come by here in Western New York,” said Dyster. “In Niagara Falls, we have one of the world’s greatest natural assets right in our own backyard.”
Dyster explained that this asset was not enough to prevent Niagara Falls from becoming a victim of the rust belt.
“Thankfully, that is a thing of the past,” said Dyster to an optimistic crowd.
Image: Nico Santangelo
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster speaks to reporters after Gov. Cuomo’s press conference.
The new DoubleTree is the fifth new hotel to open its doors in the city since Cuomo announced that the former Robert Moses Parkway was set to be part of the largest green space reclamation since Frederick Law Olmstead set up the Niagara Reservation in 1885.
“Our plan was, and is to connect Niagara Falls back to the waterfront,” said Howard Zemsky, President of Empire State Development. “You see the changes to the scenic parkway connecting the Falls’ residents and visitors back to the waterfront.”
The development is not limited to just the waterfront. Major projects, such as the new Hyatt Place hotel under construction on Rainbow Boulevard, are springing up all over the city. Other proposed projects, such as the Wonder Falls resort, are also set to take shape over the next few years. All of this is part of Cuomo’s greater plans for the city.
“We want to see a world class destination developed on Goat Island,” said Cuomo. “It can be the best, literally I believe, of international quality.”
Cuomo also stressed the importance of bringing recreation back to the city.
“The one thing Canada beat us to was they had more recreational activities on their side,” said Cuomo. “We now have the hotels, but we need the activities. Between the lodge on Goat Island and an request for proposals on just that, creative recreational activities on this side of the Falls, you’re going to see more traffic and more hotel rooms being filled up.”
The governor also explained the political lessons he learned from the Buffalo Billion program.
“When you pledge a billion dollars to Western New York, Western New York is a little happy,” said Cuomo. “They’re not that happy because they’re a little cynical. They’re not really sure they’re really going to get the billion dollars.”
Cuomo elaborated on others’ responses to the Buffalo Billion.
“Every other part of the state is really mad at you,” said Cuomo. “Every other part of the state really believes you’re going to give Western New York a billion dollars, and they are jealous because they’re not getting a billion dollars.”
Cuomo was quick to justify the investment in Western New York.
“The place that needed the most amount of help was Western New York,” said Cuomo. “The place that had gotten the least and suffered the most was Western New York. The capacity to grow and develop, and to really turn around, was Western New York.”
Cuomo also used the press conference to discuss his plan for free college tuition for students in New York State whose households make under $125,000.
“It is smart for us as a society to see our young people getting a college education,” said Cuomo. “$125,000 to me is just step one. Let’s start there, but we should keep going until we can offer every child in this state the dream of a college education.”