Tonawanda waterfront to be reimagined thanks to state funding

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — The waterfront in the City of Tonawanda will be reimagined thanks to $10 million in state funding.

The funding, which came from the state, will go towards several projects that will develop the waterfront in the areas of the Niagara River, Erie Canal and Ellicott Creek.

The original plan was made decades ago and almost came to fruition in 2022, but City of Tonawanda Mayor John White took it off the table due to businesses not wanting to invest. Now, with businesses willing to invest in the project, it was given the green light.

“Our job for that whole period was trying to find businesses that are existing here that want to do something bigger, or empty buildings or locations that we wanted to build on,” White said.

Several new projects include potentially hundreds of apartments and condos throughout the city, including on the river waterfront, as well as a hotel in the downtown area. There will also be a new parking area for events, which is part of an effort to make the Main Street of Tonawanda more walkable, similar to Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo.

“We want to make it more walkable, so you park near downtown like you’re going to Elmwood, White said. “You don’t park in front of anywhere you’re going, you park far away because you can’t find a parking spot and you end up walking Elmwood. That’s what we want to create.”

Updating the city’s side to Gateway Harbor is also in the works.

One project that the city is excited about is turning the American Legion building on Main Street into a 400-person capacity event center, which can host weddings, parties, concerts or other events. If all goes according to plan, seven luxury apartments will also be put on top of the building.

“Rentals, if they want to rent it for events you’re doing, a wedding, a party, whatever you want to do, a concert,” White said.

This is all a part of making the city more visitor-friendly and making it somewhere to stop and spend a day.

“It’s exciting,” White said. “We’ve never had this opportunity, but we’ve never had this type of money.”

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Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.

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