From Boom to Blockade: Mayor’s Interference Halts Niagara Falls Tech Project

Niagara Falls, NY: Urbacon is a developer of commercial and industrial properties in Canada and the United States. Niagara Falls Redevelopment (NFR) has the land.

The two companies planned to develop 40 acres of land in Niagara Falls as the “Niagara Digital Campus.”

It was to be a $1.5 billion technology center, 600,000 square feet of building space – a state-of-the-art data center – one of the most significant data-center developments anywhere in the western part of the state of New York, a magnet for more of the same — high-technology space and the jobs and opportunities it creates.

The development – if it happens – against the will of the mighty and it seems vengeful Mayor Robert Restaino – the NFR-Urbacon project – will bring millions into the economy – not just millions every year in tax dollars, and millions more in payroll to its 550 local employees in new jobs in nicely high-paying tech type jobs, but because the data center will require broadest band highest-speed internet access, it will require the developers to install new infrastructure for the project which will increase the speed for the surrounding area making thousands of residents’ internet speed faster – and being a magnet for other developers to come into to town with more high-paying jobs with the pioneering work already done for them.

Yes, Niagara Digital Campus would create hundreds – maybe thousands – of permanent jobs, with annual wages at the low end of $30 million and economic benefits from the new-frontier facility of more than $250 million annually-not counting support and ancillary businesses.

It would be a shot in the arm to a moribund city begging for crumbs from Albany and D.C. and anywhere else.

It was a top-flight – do-it-yourself project until the mayor of the city got in the way.

It was a godsend for this city when the two companies partnered. NFR had held the land for more than two decades, looking to find the proper development, and Urbacon and NFR finally found the right fit together.

NFR knew there would be naysayers – but it never expected Robert Restaino – a man elected to serve the city – would let his ambitions stand in the way. 

NFR knew that some who did not understand the development and land banking would naturally say that NFR was all talk, no action.

So NFR patterned with Urbacon – a company with an excellent record of delivering on its promises. Look for yourself and see if this company fouled out or punted.

Look at its track record.

And if you have doubts that either company has the funds to pull off what it wants, check out the owners of NFR – two billionaires from Manhattan – Howard and Edward Milstein.

All that was needed for the right, the perfect, maybe the best North American location for the best hyper-scale leading-edge state-of-the-world’s art data center with the highest connectivity, highest efficiency, highest security – attract them all to town data center – was this fortunate combination of the suitable land, the right landowner, the right developer, the appropriate climate — (the city’s northern climate makes natural cooling as opposed to mechanical cooling, the impetus for quiet, energy efficient operations for the 135-megawatt campus).

Only one thing was wrong – a headstrong mayor.

This project, developed by Urbacon – a company that has been around since 1984 – and the planning, architecture, engineering, building, management – bringing jobs to town – and the big-time companies here – that all need geographically sensitive and efficient space is no joke, as those who believe the mayor think.

Getting companies like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Meta, IBM, Oracle, Intel, Cisco Systems, Adobe, HP, Dell, NVIDIA, VMware, Salesforce, Qualcomm, Micron Technology, Broadcom, Cognizant, Accenture, and 200 more is not something you toss in the garbage can because your feelings are hurt. 

Guess what happens when these companies realize Niagara Falls is on the map for more than just a waterfalls?  

The companies come here, then expand and bring in their partners.

Everyone who ever thought this through knows this project could revolutionize the city.

But for the mayor standing in the way, Niagara Falls might return to the glory it held as a prestige city – back in the 20th century – when it was the Power City – until Mayor Edward P. Hutton J – teamed up with the carpetbagging Robert Moses – and worked against the local industry – and the people – took the hydropower away – and gave it to Albany.

But that is all water over the falls.

We are in the present, and the current mayor is working to block this data center.

Even the construction of the NFR-Urbacon venture was to be epic. Based on published reports in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Technology Engagement Center and the Northern Virginia Technology Council—the planned Niagara Digital Campus would create 5,600 good-paying construction jobs – more than $250 million in wages infused into the economy – right off – and with spinoff benefits topping more than $800 million.

It would have been among the largest developments in Niagara Falls’ history.

In our next in this series, we will explain how one Mayor Restaino stopped the process – maybe not killed it – but wounded it — because he said he wanted the middle 10 acres of the 40 acres NFR owns and Urbacon selected as ideal – and wants to develop for a data center – for something so speculative and dubious that the mayor does not even have the money to build it — a 7000 seat – probably almost always empty arena – that won’t create even 30 full-time jobs. 

Yes, the mayor can please his lawyer friends, act like a savior – get the credit for bringing his idea – he calls it Centennial Park – rather than let NFR or Urbacon do its project with its own money.

We will show you the entire record. You will learn the methods and means the mayor has employed to stop the project, strangling it before it can grow into something splendid while plunging the city into millions in legal fees to stop a brilliant project.

The mayor has started a full-scale nuclear legal war through the long and expensive eminent domain process – now on appeal – without the money to buy the land.

Yes, Mayor Restaino wants to force the sale of the land for his project, which the city cannot afford.

About the author

Frank Parlato

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  • No one wants a stupid data center. People want to go to concerts and sports. Builds the arena and let the taxpayers pay for what they want.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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