Jun 16 2009

Murder of the Wintergarden

Published by Poppy at 6:28 pm under ACTIVISM, Niagara Falls, one man's trash, urban pioneers

Found on Yahoo Travel: “Despite being located downtown and next to the Rainbow Center Factory Outlet and Niagara Falls Convention Center , this enclosed garden is a veritable oasis amid the hustle and bustle of sightseeing at the Falls . Many couples choose to celebrate their wedding ceremonies here, in either the Niagara Wedding Chapel or the Falls Wedding Chapel . The garden is a glass-enclosed tropical space with waterfalls, ponds and 7,000 trees. A relaxing place to visit—be it in between sightseeing tours or on a rainy day. Admission is free.”

Found on Online Highways: Wintergarden is imbued with peace and quiet in the middle of a tropical setting. Only a five-minute walk from Prospect Point, it’s open daily from 9-5. Admission is free. Adjacent to the Rainbow Center Factory Outlet Mall. Shopping & various restaurants inside the mall. A great place to go on a rainy day!

1978- The Hostettlers of Bryan, Ohio came to Niagara Falls for their wedding anniversary and discovered the beautiful “$7 million glass enclosed horticultural showcase called the Wintergarden”.

1981- Volunteers in Niagara Falls have built 50 cutouts, up to 20 feet high, of Mother Goose, Disney characters, Santa and his elves and other Christmas scenes, and five three-dimensional displays, including a 12-foot-high lighthouse and a 12-foot-long train, to add to the fun. They will be on show in a three-block viewing area made up of the E. Dent Lackey Plaza, the Rainbow Mall, the Wintergarden (a three-story collection of tropical plants) and the entrance to Prospect Park. The Wintergarden will glisten with two 26-foot-high reflecting stars and 1,000 poinsettias.

1982- St. Petersburg Times, In Niagara Falls, NY a five square block of downtown becomes a winter wonderland in December, as an opening event of the “I Love NY Winter Festival” [...] the centerpiece being the Wintergarden, where three stories of tropical vegetation become luminous with silvery decorations.

1983- Jun 27, 1983, The Miami Herald - The current wedding season requires his honor’s services for about a dozen couples every weekend who want to be married by the mayor of Niagara Falls. Call it sentiment. “I take them to the Wintergarden and hold the ceremony among the plants,” he says. “Very pretty. Very romantic.” …

1985- Dec 22, 1985 - Niagara Falls in New York State and Canada already have started their International Winter Festival of Lights. … There’s music and dancing at the convention center, free entertainment at the Wintergarden, and free train rides from 5-11 pm nightly at Fantasy Island on nearby Grand Island …

1986- . Hub of the great display will be the Wintergarden, a seven-story futuristic greenhouse with trees, shrubs and flowers next door to the Convention …

Dec 2, 1991 - ENTERTAINMENT: Music School of Niagara, Wintergarden, Niagara Falls. 7 pm.
.MUSIC: Buffalo Gateway Chorus/Sweet Adelines, Wintergarden, Niagara Falls. 7:30 pm.

Dec 9, 1991 - MUSIC: Williamsville South Chamber Ensembles, Wintergarden, Niagara Falls. 7 pm. ENTERTAINMENT: Croatian Creations Tamburitza Group, Wintergarden, Niagara Falls. 7 pm. MUSIC: First Presbyterian Church with Gaskill Chorus, …

Dec 16, 1991 - MUSIC: Lackawanna Young Christian Choir, Wintergarden, Niagara Falls. 7 pm. MUSIC: Sacred Heart Villa School Chorus, Wintergarden, Niagara Falls. 7 pm.

The city administration and the City Council once again are pointing fingers at each other, this time over who is responsible for the earlier closing hour at the Wintergarden.

Meanwhile, some downtown merchants said Wednesday that the new 9 p.m. closing is hurting them.

With the doors to the Wintergarden closed, pedestrians have to walk around to Niagara Street or to First Street to make their way from the Convention and Civic Center, E. Dent Lackey Plaza and other nearby attractions to…

Apr 20, 1997 - MALL OWNERS OFFER TO BUY WINTERGARDEN Two weeks ago, the city gave the Niagara Falls Redevelopment Corp. a five-year option for use of the south side of the Wintergarden for a hotel lobby and restaurant if the development group buys the Ramada Inn at the Falls. Brian K. Meilleur, president of the development group, …

Aug 24, 1997 - Niagara Falls, NY, Mayor James C. Galie welcomed the group at the Wintergarden. “We have a jewel. We just have to refine it. … “There is no fabric to experience, no invitation to stay longer and explore the history, culture and ethnic diversity we have here,” Wysocki said.

1997 Old Falls Street, which disappeared from the life and fabric of the city to make way for a failed urban renewal project, could be reincarnated in the multimillion redevelopment of downtown planned by a group of international investors.

And the Wintergarden might have to be modified or torn down to make the plan work.

Bruce Jolley, director of planning for the Jerde Partnership International Inc., said Thursday that the firm “would like to bring the life back to Falls..


The Wintergarden in Niagara Falls is one of the prizes of the city’s urban-renewal effort,undertaken in the mid-1970s.

The building is 107 feet high, covered with tempered glass and filled with exotic trees and shrubs. It cost almost $8 million when it was completed in 1975

The Wintergarden was designed by Gruen Associates, with Landscape Architect M. Paul Friedberg, who designed the first of the great urban malls…

2000- Jan 30, 2000 - In November, the city granted Wintergarden Entertainment an option to lease the building for 20 years, as long as Niagara Falls Redevelopment didn’t exercise its option first. Another question mark on the tourism horizon remains the Niagara Falls airport.


News Niagara Bureau

A plan to turn the Wintergarden into an indoor dinosaur theme park, the “Wintergarden Rainforest Dinosaurium,” could be a reality by July.

Wintergarden Entertainment announced Friday it is ready to exercise the option the city granted it Nov. 4 to lease and redevelop the glass-walled downtown facility, with an option to buy the building.

The lease costs and the first phase of construction could equal about $1.5 million, said Paul A. Grenga Jr., the Lewiston…

Jan 1, 2001 - The 20th annual Festival of Lights passed into history Sunday night, with organizers already making plans for the 21st annual event. … The mall runs between Wintergarden and Niagara Falls Convention Center…


Published on March 3, 2002

Members of the citizens group Revitalization of Area Heritage are holding a party to try to raise enough awareness to keep the Wintergarden alive.

The free event, dubbed Wintergarden Awareness Day, will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday in the Wintergarden, which is next to the former Rainbow Centre Factory Outlet Mall.

Vendors will sell a variety of foods in the glass-enclosed arboretum, and there will be musical performances throughout the afternoon.

Because Pelli’s buildings are world-renowned, Leoncavallo said the Wintergarden is one of the more significant structures in Niagara Falls. “The powers that be, so to speak, are pressuring the mayor to close it up,” she said.

Sep 28, 2003 - After giving away the plants and trees, the new owners of the Wintergarden are turning the 26-year-old downtown greenhouse into a tourist attraction for children. “People traveling to Niagara Falls to gamble are finding little for their children to do,” said Paul A. Grenga, …

August 7, 2007 The Niagara Falls Reporter - In the more than two years since the Niagara Falls Reporter made it public knowledge that Vincenzo V. Anello accepted a series of secret payments totaling $40,000 from developer Joe Anderson around the time he was elected mayor of Niagara Falls in 2003, federal agents have been looking for evidence that Anderson got something in return for his generosity.

Last Thursday, the ribbon was cut on a $3.4 million gift from taxpayers called Old Falls Street, where Anello granted Anderson exclusive vending rights in a no-bid deal during his first months in office.

But the real payoff for Anderson, Anello told the gathering of elected officials and bureaucrats, who were too busy patting themselves on the back to notice, is yet to come.

“In the not-too-distant future, Falls Street will be open all the way to the park,” the mayor said.

What he left unmentioned was that doing that would mean the removal of the former Wintergarden, now known as Smokin’ Joe’s Family Fun Center, which Anderson just happened to have had the foresight to purchase shortly before he started writing large checks to Anello, then a member of the City Council.

In making the purchase along with partners Paul Grenga, Brian Meilleur and Rick Horn, Anderson paid about $1 million for the civic greenhouse. Due to its location and the renovation it has undergone since Anderson bought it, as well as New York state’s bottomless pockets, the property would likely fetch as much as $6 to $8 million if taken via eminent domain.

Given Anello’s close ties to those three men, who orchestrated his successful 2003 campaign, and his well-documented history of accepting money from Anderson without telling anyone or paying taxes on it, the question that should be obvious to federal investigators is what his share of the big jackpot is going to be.

2007 - AUCTION BEFORE RAZING THE WINTERGARDEN- The Wintergarden is slated to officially close later this month. The 110-foot tall glass-enclosed atrium that has been a part of the Niagara Falls skyline since the 1970s.

The building, when opened in 1977, was viewed as one of the centerpieces of an urban renewal effort in downtown Niagara Falls. Anderson said he may consider building a hotel on the property, but those plans remain preliminary.

Anderson bought the Wintergarden in 2003, paying $1 million. He ran a family amusement center in the building for the past two years.

The Wintergarden was designed by famed architect Cesar Pelli, whose resume includes the World Financial Center in New York. The building went through a variety of uses during its 30-year run but was plagued by consistent turn over in plans and visions.

“It was a good building,” Bronstein said.

2008- WINTERGARDEN CLOSER TO AN END - At the same time and in a related move, the USA Niagara directors unanimously agreed to buy the Wintergarden from East Mall Entertainment LLC, a partnership headed by Niagara County businessman and Indian leader Joe Anderson for $1.6 million. Anderson had run the Wintergarden as an entertainment center the past few years, but closed the building last fall.

USA Niagara, in late July, struck a deal with Anderson for the Wintergarden.

The deal was subject to a series of public hearings.

By demolishing the Wintergarden, which was constructed in the late 1970s as part of an earlier urban renewal effort in Niagara Falls, it will create a visual corridor between the state park and Third Street while also re-opening the historic Old Falls Street right-of-way.

The demolition work will likely start next year.

2009- USA Niagara received an opinion in June from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation that the glass building is not eligible for the state’s Register of Historic Places because of extensive changes that have been made inside the building. (EDITORIAL NOTE: changes Anderson made.)

State and city officials have said they believe that the building is a roadblock for tourists.

They have no plan to tear down the adjacent Rainbow Centre mall, which is empty except for one seasonal tenant, a ground-level restaurant.

Niagara Falls resident Barbara Marchelos is among a group of citizens who want to see the Wintergarden saved.

Marchelos and others point to the arboretum’s architect, Cesar Pelli, as one of the reasons the state should incorporate the building into its plans.

“Niagara Falls has lost enough of its identity to some of the most ill-conceived projects, in part by changing downtown Niagara Falls into what we now know,” Marchelos said. “The planned changes by USA Niagara should recognize the worthiness of the Wintergarden project.”

Crews are demolishing the steel-and-glass Wintergarden in Niagara Falls

Here are some photos I took of the demolition of the Wintergarden this week. Notice in one photo, tourists wander through the dangerous equipment looking for anywhere to visit on the US side of the Falls.

4 Responses to “Murder of the Wintergarden”

  1. Great placeon 21 Jun 2009 at 10:22 pm

    I will always remember the Rainbow Centre and the Wintergarden.

    My dad received his transfer orders in 1982 to be relocated to Niagara Falls with the USAF and we started off upon arrival at the Holiday Inn down town.

    I was only 14 then and decided to take a stroll over to the Mall. Let me tell you , after living in over 20 states and seeing a lot , this Mall was quite impressive. Like nothing I had ever seen. Very unique .

    I have not been back to the Falls since we left in 1984 , but the two years we spent there were awesome. Great people and the Pizza. Yeah , the Pizza. Hmmmmm , time to get back up there….

  2. Poppyon 30 Jun 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I remember the mall in 1984 as well. It was really exciting- the multiple levels and elevator- and the fountains and it all lead into the Wintergarden- which was a series of paths and bridges and steps up down and all around ponds, streams and trees. That was beautiful. It’s amazing to me that could all just end.

  3. Quinceyon 17 Aug 2009 at 12:10 pm

    I am done!i am finished with Niagara Falls.As a kid i remember going to the Convention center to the circus and all other kinds of stuff and the winter garden was one of the things i loved to visit.It was so pretty inside during the winter and summer time.Now they put up the casino and the think that is going to cure the problems of downtown Niagara falls. ITS NOT DAMMIT!you could build 10 Casinos from here to Buffalo and everywhere in between until you lower taxes and bring in some REAL jobs nothing is going to change.What ever happen to the Festival of lights,Rainbow Centre Mall and the Winter Garden you could walk under ground from the Winter Garden to the Convention Center with out ever going outside.There use to be a Pizza Hut right next to the Convention Center/Casino what happen to it? oh they tore it down for a damn parking lot. and now they’ve torn down the Winter Garden for more side walks New york state,Niagara Falls and Buffalo You all are so sad.Why noy just sell this part of New York state to the Canadians they seen to know get the job done and do it right.

  4. PoPPyon 17 Aug 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I completely understand your frustration. It is very difficult to sit back and watch the city being run like this. To find out about the corruption, the bad decisions, the generations of administration *not* qualified to run a city, let alone a world destination. It can be very embarassing.

    I am sorry to say a LOT of your points are correct. We must solve the tax problems here. We are the highest taxed people in the country- yet our cities look like shit- our infrastructure is crumbling.

    They pay for professional “Master Plans” then let somebody’s cousin do whatever they want instead. Whatever makes the popular clique money for their little length of time without consideration for the future of the city.

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