Tony Farina, a top aide to City Comptroller Andrew SanFilippo, is leaving Buffalo to oversee one of Niagara Falls’ most prominent and controversial landmarks.
The former newspaper and television reporter announced his appointment Thursday as president of One Niagara LLC, the company that owns the former Occidental Chemical building in downtown Niagara Falls.
“I expect to be the face of that building,” Farina said. “I want to make that location a one-stop shopping location for tourists coming to the Falls.”
The nine-story, mostly glass building is one of the Falls’ most visible structures and the subject of an ongoing dispute between the city and co-owner Frank Parlato.
A year ago, the city informed Parlato that it would stop issuing permits for the building until he submitted a revised site plan.
Parlato responded by going to court and last summer succeeded in getting permission to open a ninth-floor observation deck.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Farina acknowledged Thursday. “But the goal is to put a good face on that building and increase tourism.”
During the summer, the building had tenants on the first floor, most notably a welcome center with food and souvenir vendors.
One Niagara, once an office building for Occidental Chemical, was the site of a failed underground aquarium before Parlato took it over. He filled in a 40-foot hole on the property and opened a paid parking lot.
Farina, a former reporter at the Courier-Express and WGRZ and WKBW television stations, entered government as a speechwriter for then-Attorney General Dennis Vacco in 1998.
He began working at City Hall in 2000.