Pinnacle Community Services proposes housing development


Vacant lots along 6th and 7th Streets between Niagara Street and Walnut Avenue may be returning to the tax rolls as residential real estate.

The project was the topic of a meeting with residents at the Earl Brydges Library Tuesday night hosted by Pinnacle Community Services and Housing Visions.

It was hard to judge from the graphic shared at the even but it looked like between 15 and 20 lots are being considered in the vicinity of the proposed Centennial Park or Urbacon data center.

Pinnacle Community Services has headquarters on Main Street. As an agency, it works to improve the lives of children and families.

Housing Visions has roots in Syracuse and has done development projects in 16 different communities.

Pinnacle’s President and CEO Laura Pennington said 66% of homes have fiscal stress, defined as not enough income to pay bills or food to eat.

Housing Visions Vice President Christopher Trevisani said Housing Visions began out of a need near University United Methodist Church in Syracuse and grew when the founder of Pyramid Real Estate signed on.

Housing Visions already developed one residential building on Walnut Avenue in the Falls about 5 years ago.

Trevisani said Housing Visions has completed senior housing, supportive housing as well as market rate. All are on the table as need dictates.

Other organizations present for the meeting included Neighborworks, Habitat for Humanity, Community Missions, YWCA and the Niagara Falls Department of Community Development.

Pennington said there is no concrete plan for development. The project is beginning with a blank slate.

Community Development Director Cliff Scott said as much as his department would like to instantly make everything better he has to pick and choose spots. He noted the city has funding available for housing rehab.

He also expressed concern about limited resources.

For example, he walks past the old Mount St. Mary’s Hospital daily but, as much as he would like to see it demolished tomorrow, it is privately owned and on the National Register of Historic Places.

One positive development he mentioned was bids for demolition of the long-abandoned Pharaohs NightClub on Whirlpool Street will be opened today.

“Things just don’t happen overnight,” Scott said, “because we have so many challenges we have to pick and choose where to place our resources.”

Community Activist Bob Beldon expressed skepticism. He sounded like he’s been trapped in the movie Groundhog Day for a lifetime, experiencing the same follies over and over again.

“For decades, we’ve had meetings like this and great input,” Beldon said, “and then they never got listened to. Where is the real plan?”

Pennington said they tore up the plan because this project is a new, fresh and different endeavor they hope to have subsidized by state and federal grants resulting in new development.

Asked about whether the newly developed residential real estate would be added to the tax rolls, Pennington deferred to Trevisani who assured it would.

No timetable was offered for the project. Organizers will keep the community informed via email and social media.

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