Plans move forward to transform former Rainbow Centre Mall into tourist destination

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — U.S.A. Niagara Development and the City of Niagara Falls are closer to putting their plans for the former Rainbow Centre Mall into action.

The building has been mostly empty for years but the plan now is to bring in retail, restaurants, and entertainment that will attract tourists year round.

The plan is to build an open-air passage through the center of the former mall.

“We’re excited that a product that lay dormant for too many years can finally come alive again. And it gives our visitors a part of an experience that’s missing downtown with retail and attractions and more dining options,” said John Percy, president of Destination Niagara U.S.A., the official tourism agency for Niagara County.

He said this will flip the layout inside-out.

“The initial design we saw last night are exactly what you need to do with a retail center right now. Indoor shopping malls are having some difficulty and you’re starting to see a look at lifestyle centers and people don’t want to be confined to an inside facility so I think this is perfect timing with this redesign. Having that accessibility from the outside and just the visual from outside,” Percy said.

New York State said the project will make the area more walkable, bring in new businesses, and improve parking.

Destination Niagara is also taking over management of the Niagara Falls Conference Center and Old Falls Street. They were previously managed by an outside firm based in Philadelphia.

“I think we will be looking at how to reshape it, redirect, and reintroduce the brand of the Niagara Falls Conference Center and Old Falls Street.”

Marvel Architects is leading the design team for the Rainbow Centre project.

If everything goes as planned, construction could start in 2023.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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