New Lockport residential, retail development proposed for downtown

Lockport — Downtown Lockport could soon be seeing development on a State Street property that has been vacant since 2010.

During the Committee of the Whole meeting on Feb. 21, the City Council members were presented with a plan from the Planning and Zoning Commission to approve a special use permit for development of a mixed-use building which would include retail space and multiple apartment units.

The property, located at 923 State St., would stand three-stories tall from State Street and contain 1800 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, with the upper floors and the back of the first floor dedicated to one- and two-bedroom apartments. The building also would include a lower level accessible from Commerce Street, which would host parking for the apartments.

The property was originally a one-story building that since 1950s had been used as a grocery store, a bowling alley, a currency exchange, multiple retail stores and a weightlifting facility before a fire lead to its demolition in 2010. Currently, it is used as a public parking lot adjacent to the old City Hall building, which is occupied by the Boy Scouts.

Alderman JR Gillogly, 2nd Ward, listens to a speaker at the Lockport City Council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 7th 2024 in Lockport.

It is not known yet what sort of retail tenants would be located in the first-floor space, or if it would be multiple tenants, however, the building would include eight apartment units behind the retail space, as well as an additional 22 units on the second and third floors.

Director of Community and Economic Development Lance Thies emphasized in the presentation that the building would be built to “remain consistent with our surrounding downtown.” The structure would be primarily brick. Thies described some of the building’s styling as similar to designs implemented by the buildings occupied by Nik & Ivy’s, Lockport Vacuum and Lock and Mule, which also are all located on State Street.

The board had no questions and voted to send the item forward for approval by the City Council on March 6 for consent approval.

While adding a building to the downtown did not meet any challenges from the Committee of the Whole, a second development proposed by Public Works did cause some disagreement.

Public Works Director Brent Cann, presented a plan to the council members to grant $490,245.00 to V3 for Roadway Construction Management on the old Chevron property, which would make the area more accessible for Old Canal Days.

People enjoy a nice Friday night at Lockport’s Canal Days on Friday, June 9, 2023.

The project would extend the existing end of Davies Street with pavement and connect it to 2nd Street in order to make the pedestrian-only roads more walkable as well as ADA accessible by replacing the existing gravel and dirt with pavement. The roads would not include curbs, as they would serve no significant purpose, and excluding them would allow the project to be less permanent if Old Canal Days were to be relocated in the future.

In addition to the roadwork, the project would also create 23 paved handicap parking spaces for the festival.

Alderman J.R. Gilogly noted that he was not fond of the proposal, stating that it was too expensive for a measure that “would make Old Canal Days ADA friendly, but not fully compliant.”

“I have no problem with making the site more ADA friendly, I think we can do it cheaper though,” he said.

Gilogly also noted that by improving the site, the city seems to be signaling that the location for Old Canal Days would be more permanent instead of moving to relocate the event back to the downtown.

That point was reinforced by City Administrator Ben Benson, who said that the Chamber of Commerce, which hosts Old Canal Days, has not expressed any plan to move the festival in the immediate future, which makes committing to the site a logical choice.

Another concern raised by the aldermen was damage being done to the new road if it was installed, as the property is also used by the Hell’s Gate haunted house in fall.

“A major issue is Hell’s Gate and the damage they do to the property each year,” Gilogly said. “If we do this, we should make a contract with them that they will be responsible for any damage.”

Similarly, Alderman Darren Deskin noted that if the road was built “I don’t want holes punched in a half-million-dollar road for tent spikes from the festival.”

Despite the concerns raised by the aldermen, the plan has been approved to go before the City Council on March 6, though more discussion is planned for it at that time.