Family Brings Sunshine to Blight in Niagara Falls

8:18 PM, Sep 28, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Family Brings Sunshine to Blight in Niagara Falls

Goat Island is between the American Falls (foreground) and the Canadian Falls seen in the distance.

NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK - The City of Niagara Falls has been trying to scrape up cash to deal with blight and speed up the number of demolitions in the city.

The city has been getting grants to remove hundreds of homes that are either vacant or condemned.

But, some people in the community are taking matters into their own hands.

The Harris-Nix family of Niagara Falls is putting everything on the line for one building on the city's North End. They're putting all their energy, concentration and much of their money into 926 Centre Avenue.

If the building was demolished it would break the family's heart, so they're saving it.

A popular soul food restaurant used to be there and attract big business. But, when the owner of the shop closed and sold it in the 1980's, the new owner neglected the property. So the restaurant fell apart. Lillie Nix, the mother of the family has seen too many similar stories of abandonment in her city.

"We need some place where, where we can have our own place," she said.

So, with limited supplies, the family has a dream, to make building into a new soul food restaurant. They expanded the restaurant and put in new flooring, among other upgrades. They're also using about $80,000 from an insurance claim after Donna Harris got, after she recovered from a bad car accident in 2007.

She suffered injuries to her appendix, neck and shoulder.

"It gets tiring because sometimes you wanna be finished you wanna be done been working on this for a long time and the more I come in, the more it just uplifts me," Donna Harris said.

2 On Your Side asked the city whether it can lower the burden on families taking over vacant buildings.

"We have a variety of programs we don't negotiate deals with people, we'd love to be able to offer assistance to anybody who needs it," said Niagara Falls mayor, Paul Dyster. 

Back on Centre Ave., the focus is on L and J's Ribhouse. It's named after the daughters' parents. It should be open sometime in the spring of 2013.

This will be one less building that'll be on the chopping block for the city and one more dream fulfilled.










'You're going to be able to smell the smell a mile away as you're approaching that Grand Island Bridge," said Donna Harris. 

Meantime, 600 homes and buildings need to be taken down in Niagara Falls, but only 14 will be done this year. Dyster will present the city's proposed budget on Monday to City Council, hoping the council approves nearly $500,000 in demolition money. This would be a slight increase from this budget year.

Meantime, the city is looking into taking down structures around Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, which is an area the city thinks can be turned around.

City officials say Niagara Falls is losing out on $60 million in casino revenue, because of the disagreement between the state and the Seneca Nation.












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