NFR Unveils $1.5 Billion Niagara Digital Campus Plans – Parcel 0 Deemed Essential for Project’s First Phase

Niagara Falls Redevelopment (NFR) and Toronto-based developer Urbacon have unveiled a $1.5 billion plan for the first phase of the Niagara Digital Campus, a state-of-the-art data center project in Niagara Falls, NY. The development is centered on a 12-acre plot known as “Parcel 0,” which is key to the project’s infrastructure and its first 50 MW phase.

The plans detail a mega electric substation that NFR and Urbacon will construct to power the data center and significantly upgrade downtown Niagara Falls’s electric grid. Phase I of the project, which will include approximately 282,000 square feet of the total 600,000 square feet of data center space, is expected to be completed within 24 months from groundbreaking.

However, the project faces a legal hurdle. Mayor Robert Restaino is attempting to force a sale of the land to build a taxpayer-funded events center, dubbed Centennial Park. Both NFR and Mayor Restaino are vying for development rights on Parcel 0.

NFR owns the land.

Urbacon has deemed Parcel 0 the only viable site for the first phase of the digital campus, due to its readiness and access to necessary power and infrastructure. Despite alternatives considered by NFR, Parcel 0 remains pivotal for the project’s launch.

Restaino, facing an upcoming election, insists his $150 million project must proceed. He pledges to pursue the property for his events center project if he secures funding from city and state taxpayers and wins reelection.

Mayor Restaino’s Proposed Centennial Park

If NFR prevails in court or the next mayor rescinds the eminent domain, NFR plans to collaborate with city and state officials to obtain project approvals and commence groundbreaking.

Mayoral candidate Carl Cain supports the Niagara Digital Campus project, describing it as “a boon to the community.” He suggests exploring other locations for the proposed events center if studies justify its need and taxpayers can fund it.

Mayor Restaino, however, remains steadfast in his commitment to the events center project, anticipating that its proximity to the Seneca casino would boost Seneca tax free businesses. He has bypassed the traditional site selection study, choosing Parcel 0 himself for his legacy project.

We believe it will jumpstart a tech revolution in Niagara Falls,” said Roger Trevino of NFR. “We have a rare opportunity to bring jobs and opportunity to the residents of Niagara Falls – better jobs that can change lives and foster high-technology infrastructure that will benefit Niagara Falls for generations.”

The plans call for the proposed development, which will be energy-efficient and low noise, to blend seamlessly with the surrounding area. Once built, it will be among the largest data center developments in the region, a magnet for additional high-tech jobs and opportunities.


“Niagara Digital Campus” digital rendering

According to studies by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Technology Engagement Center and the Northern Virginia Technology Council, the Niagara Digital Campus project will create 5,600 high-paying construction jobs. Over the next two years, these jobs are expected to pump $250 million in wages into the local economy, with an economic spinoff expected to exceed $810 million citywide.

Once all phases are operational, the Niagara Digital Campus will require more than 500 high-paying permanent jobs, generating expected annual wages of $29 million.

Beyond its immediate impact, the digital campus is estimated to generate over $250 million in annual economic benefits, creating over 1,700 permanent jobs in support and ancillary businesses.

The project also envisions establishing a Technology Education Center. This facility will cater to local schools and interested community members, offering training in data engineering and network operations to meet the growing demand for these high-paying jobs.

Urbacon, the premier developer behind the project, has a proven track record in constructing and operating hyper-scale Digital Campuses in booming North American cities, including MontrealToronto, and Richmond Hill, Ontario.

Restaino has hired the high-profile Buffalo law firm of Hodgson Russ to handle the litigation. As the legal battle continues, the mayor has not disclosed how much of the city’s dwindling reserves have been spent on attorney fees.

NFR, the owner of the land and financier of the proposed Niagara Digital Campus, owns over 140 acres in downtown Niagara Falls and has patiently assembled its holdings in anticipation of a significant project of this magnitude.

Despite criticism over the timeline of its first major launch, NFR’s contributions to the city have been substantial. The company has invested more than $116 million in the area, acquiring key parcels and adding to the city’s coffers.

Meanwhile, Mayor Restaino argues that his proposed events center will transform the city. He estimates it would likely not cost taxpayers more than $2 million per year in operating losses and financing for the land purchase. To fund the purchase of the land, Restaino proposes diverting about a million per year from the road repair budget and senior services support.

NFR’s digital center will be self-financed and contribute to the city’s revenue through property taxes. This new tax income could potentially enhance the budget for roads, senior services, and other city needs.


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