After a three-stage public procurement process, redevelopment plans are now locked in to restore and revamp the abandoned Toronto Power Generating Station in Niagara Falls, Ont.
Niagara Parks has announced that Pearle Hospitality is the successful proponent who brought to the table a transitional private sector investment of over $200 million to restore the National Historic Site that has been dormant since 1974.
Overlooking the iconic Canadian Horseshoe Falls, the project promises to create an unparalleled visitor experience, including the falls’ first five-star boutique hotel.
A letter of intent between Niagara Falls and Pearle Hospitality has been signed to mark the beginning of a 120-day due diligence process that will include a Heritage Impact Assessment, Cultural Heritage Evaluation Report, Strategic Conservation Plan, environmental archeology assessments and contract negotiations.
“We have four project goals. The first goal is the full restoration of the power station. The second is to create a new visitor experience to bring new visitors to Niagara Parks, Niagara and Ontario. The third goal is to see an economic return to Niagara Parks through a rent payment similar to our arrangement with Niagara City Cruises and Niagara Adventure excursions, and the fourth project goal is to see (an) economic impact from jobs created during construction to jobs created during the operation of the new visitor experience,” said Niagara Parks Commission chief administration officer David Adames.
Other components of the project include several indoor and outdoor viewing areas, a museum and public art gallery, a theatre, several culinary options, a craft brewery and event and programming space.
“Toronto Power is a globally recognized landmark of Canadian architecture and industry that has stood as a central feature of the Niagara Falls landscape for over a century. Overseeing its preservation and transformation from a dormant heritage building of national significance into a brand-new, one-of-a-kind visitor experience for the benefit of local residents and tourists alike, is the embodiment of what Niagara Parks stands for as an organization,” said April Jeffs, chair of the Niagara Parks Commission.
Pearle Hospitality, founded by the Ciancone family in 1936, has a plethora of experience transforming heritage properties across Ontario.
Its portfolio boasts the Elora Mill Hotel and Spa, the Ancaster Mill, the Cambridge Mill, the Pearle Hotel and Spa and Spencer’s at the Waterfront, both in Burlington, and the Whistler Bear Golf Course also in Cambridge.
“As we work to develop the Toronto Power site, we’re looking forward to applying the best practices we’ve learned through our history of building, redeveloping and operating distinctive and world-class destination properties across Ontario,” said Brian McMullan, director of business development and spokesperson for Pearle Hospitality.
The prime consultant and architect for the restoration and adaptive reuse will be +VG Architects, who has extensive experience working with the Niagara Parks Commission.
The most recent collaboration was as architect of record in the adaptive reuse of a neighbouring decommissioned generating plant into the Niagara Parks Power Station, an educational and entertainment destination. The project won the 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation and the 2022 Niagara Biennial Design Awards Grand Prize.
“This is the most important commission in our firm’s 50-year history,” said +VG Architects president and managing principal, Paul Sapounzi, adding, “This is a Canadian national heritage site and, as such, our top priority will be to establish restoration measures that will protect it for generations to come.”
The $200-plus million redevelopment project will be funded entirely by private sector investment and Niagara Parks predicts groundbreaking in 2024.
It’s estimated in the projected four years of construction and first five-years of operations to generate $300 million in Gross Domestic Product, create 9,531 jobs (1,059 per annum) and $98 million in taxes to all three levels of government.