Restaino Wins, Taxpayers Lose Round #1 of Restaino’s Impossible Dream

In a significant legal development for the taxpayers of Niagara Falls, the Appellate Division ruled Mayor Robert Restaino can move forward in his effort to force the sale of 10 acres of land from Niagara Falls Redevelopment LLC.

The court’s approval means Restaino can proceed to round 2, which is to litigate the price of the land valued between $10 -$20 million for his planned Centennial Park, a proposed 7000-seat arena and parking ramp with a small park.


Mayor Robert Restaino has a fixation on taking 10 acres of land no matter what the cost.

The city does not have the funds to build the arena, but a confident Restaino says he is certain he can find taxpayer funding for it, if he can find the money to buy the property first.

Restaino has found sufficient funds in the budget to pay for the premier legal services of Hodgson Russ, who are handling the extensive litigation needed to take the property.

At a cost in legal fees Restaino declines to tell taxpayers and the council at this time, he appears to have won the first round of what will be lengthy, ongoing and taxpayer-funded eminent domain litigation.

After learning the court’s decision, NFR said it planned to appeal, citing Mayor Restaino’s uncertain reasons for taking its private property.

NFR argues the proposed Centennial Park scheme lacks a clearly identifiable and defensible “public use.”

This statement is hard to analyze. To date the public cannot determine if there is a public use, since Mayor Restaino has not done a feasibility study to assess the economic viability of the plan.

Critics say this raises concerns about the necessity and legitimacy of the forced sale land acquisition.

NFR is fighting the taking because it has other plans for its land. In partnership with Urbacon, NFR plans a state-of-the-art data center on the 10 acres the mayor is litigating to take through eminent domain.

According to Urbacon, the mayor’s ongoing eminent domain battle threatens to derail Urbacon’s project and the economic opportunities it would bring to the area.

The dispute has far-reaching implications for taxpayers. The legal proceedings are expected to continue for years, incurring substantial additional legal fees for the city.

NFR emphasizes that regardless of the final outcome on constitutional questions, the valuation litigation alone will be a lengthy process.

As the legal battle unfolds, the fate of the Centennial Park development and Urbacon’s data center hang in the balance.

Niagara Falls Redevelopment issued the following statement in response to the court’s ruling: 

It is important to remember that this is only the first round in this dispute.

Because both the U. S. and New York State constitutions prohibit the taking of private property absent a legitimate public use, NFR fully intends to appeal the Fourth Department’s decision to the New York Court of Appeals, and perhaps beyond. To say that NFR respectfully disagrees with the Fourth Department’s determination regarding Mayor Restaino’s Centennial Park scheme doesn’t begin to tell the story.

Moreover, it should be understood that, regardless of the final outcome on these vital constitutional questions, the valuation litigation that comes next will take years and likely cost millions in additional legal fees—and that doesn’t include the price of the land itself, which even conservative estimates peg at north of $10 million.
Mayor Restaino’s reasons for taking this private property are so speculative and shifting that we believe it constitutes an unlawful and arbitrary taking, one without any clearly identified, let alone defensible, “public use.” Indeed, the Mayor himself has said that even if his unfunded Centennial Park plan never happens, the City of Niagara Falls will just keep the land anyway and find some other use for it.

It is also important to note that, to this day, there has never been a feasibility study conducted to see if the Mayor’s scheme is any way economically viable. That study, if the Mayor ever gets around to conducting it as required by the City’s Comprehensive Plan, may well show that the Centennial Park does not belong on NFR’s property, or that it should not be built at all. Of course, no one knows what it will say, because—despite receiving approval from the City Council—no study has been performed.

Finally, we must all understand that it has now been two-and-one-half years since Urbacon first approached the City of Niagara Falls to bring a state-of-the-art data center to the city—eight months before Mayor Restaino turned his back on the project and launched his own Centennial Park proposal. Urbacon has determined that the only parcel that will work for the first phase of its data center campus is the NFR property the Mayor wants for his park and events center.
It is extremely unfortunate that, if the Mayor doesn’t stop this unnecessary and wasteful eminent domain fight, Urbacon may be forced to give up on its plans to bring high-tech jobs and economic opportunity to area residents—and Niagara Falls will have squandered yet another opportunity to secure a brighter future.”
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