The One Niagara building changed ownership hands this past week, and that is a good thing for the city of Niagara Falls.
Gone is managing partner Frank Parlato; in is an eclectic group of hometown heroes, including a former mayor and former fire chief, two attorneys, a tour operator, a realtor, a sports entertainment professional, and a longtime businessman and restaurateur who might be just as well known these days as the publisher of the city's only locally owned newspaper.
Parlato leaves as polarizing a presence as when he first arrived on the scene six years ago. He's the type of guy who people either love or hate, with middle ground being the only land untrodden.
However one may feel about him, this much is certain: Before he arrived the glass building, erected in 1980 and adjacent to the Rainbow Bridge, sat vacant for years. Worse, the failed AquaFalls project had left a literal hole, to match the figurative one, in the center of the city's tourism district.
Parlato filled that hole on both accounts. Today his One Niagara building is a hub of buzzing tourist activity. Sure, it's tacky, but it is also something that almost everything else in downtown Niagara Falls is not -- vibrant, successful and relevant.
The new group at One Niagara reads like a Who's Who of successful local business and politics. A Dream Team of tourism ownership, if you will. It is the type of local partnership group that can take something that is proven and make it a catalyst for growth in the downtown corridor.
It's no secret that Parlato and the folks at City Hall weren't exactly drinking buddies, but now is the time for the slate to be wiped clean for the in-coming group. Here's hoping that Mayor Paul Dyster sits down with them over a glass of some sort of beverage and forges a new relationship between One Niagara and the city.
The future of the tourism district hinges on successful development. Whether you liked what Parlato did with One Niagara or not, it was far better than an abandoned building with a gaping hole halfway to Middle Earth out front.
The new group deserves a fair shake to see where they can take it from here, and the successful resumes of the men involved dictate that they be given the benefit of the doubt.