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Governor Hochul Announces Groundbreaking for $46 Million Welcome Center at Niagara Falls State Park

October 17, 2021

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the beginning of construction for a new, $46 million state-of-the-art visitor center in Niagara Falls State Park.

The new facility will be a gateway to adventure along the Niagara River Corridor, greatly improving the visitor experience, complementing nature, and increasing the length of visits within the park in all four seasons. The newly built center will welcome new and returning sightseers, enhancing awareness of regional recreational and cultural offerings.

"Niagara Falls is a wonder of the world unique to Western New York and it's awe-inspiring beauty has been preserved with Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the United States,"

Governor Kathy Hochul said.

"This new Welcome Center builds on our work to showcase all of the landmark gems that New York State has to offer, attracting visitors from around the world and boosting our tourism economy."

The new 28,000-square-foot visitor center design will open a more seamless pedestrian connection between the Falls and the city's downtown business district begun with the completion the Welcome Plaza last year. Demolition of the 35-year-old original visitor center will create more open views of the American Falls. The facility will include new ticketing and information desks, interpretive museum space including an immersive experience and exhibits on a diversity of topics including natural, industrial and Indigenous American history; provide information for visitors about opportunities unique to the region; new concession spaces; restrooms and associated support spaces.

The glass, steel and concrete facility has been designed to complement nature and include a rooftop solar array, green roof elements and a separate restroom building. Enhanced site amenities include new accessible paths; plantings; outdoor exhibits, and interpretive and wayfinding elements. More than 100 new trees will be planted to replace those removed during construction. The existing 7,000-square-foot regional administration building immediately adjacent to the facility will be adapted to include a multi-purpose community room, regional archives, and offices for Niagara regional interpretive staff.

R.P. Oakhill has been designated as the contractor for the project which is slated to begin immediately and wrap up by Memorial Day of 2023. G.W.W.O a national leader in visitor center development is the architect and Haley Sharpe Design is designing the interior interpretive exhibits. The Center will open in Spring 2023.

The not-for-profit Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, created after the 2014 death of Wilson, the former owner of the Buffalo Bills and a co-founder of the American Football League, will contribute $8 million toward the project. The Wilson Foundation continues Ralph Wilson's remarkable legacy of support for tourism, parks and outdoor recreation, trail development, and community revitalization in Western New York.

New York Pressroom

October 15, 2021

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