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Press Release from the Village of Lewiston regarding the future of the Frontier House

by jpauly
Fri, Jun 15th 2018 10:00 am

June 14, 2018

Contact Mayor Terry C. Collesano      716-799-3340

The Village of Lewiston Mayor, Terry C. Collesano and the Village Board of Trustees are issuing a major announcement that they have joined hands to save the iconic Frontier House, a regional landmark that has remained vacant for the last 14 years. 

The Village of Lewiston will be requesting Greenway funding to help purchase the Frontier House from the Hastings Family for $800,000.  A figure that is a million dollars less than the original asking price, and very close to the appraised value of the property.  The agreement has been reached in principle and awaits approval by the Village Board of Trustees. 

Mayor Collesano commented "the Frontier House is the symbol of Lewiston's character and culture.  It is part and parcel of our rich heritage and embodies the hopes and dreams of our citizens.  Some may look at it as just a building, but it is our touchstone to the past that will shape our community's future."

"This is the big news we've all waited years for. Finally, we have a plan that will move us forward to our goal of complete and total restoration so the Frontier House can be revived to its original glory."  

Our intention is to turn the Frontier House over to a new non-profit organization called the Frontier House Restoration Corporation, an accountable 501C3 organization that will be led by experienced and capable volunteers who have the best interest of the Frontier House and Lewiston at heart. FHRC's mission will several fold:

1.)   To issue a request for proposals from private developers who may wish to purchase or lease the building and to begin the rehabilitation process.

2.)   To get the building back on the tax rolls as soon as practical.

3.)   Manage, and hopefully retain, a portion of the parking lot for public parking.

4.)   Maximize the Village's return on investment.

5.)   Work with county, state and federal officials to secure additional resources in the effort to restore the Frontier House.

One of the goals of the FHRC will be to create a business friendly approach in attracting potential private developers by accommodating proposals that make it financially feasible for them to undertake the expensive process of rehabbing and restoring the structure.  For example, the FHRC will be open to the idea of a "lease to buy" arrangement that would offer developers control of the property for a nominal cost for several years.  This would allow them to make improvements without having to make a substantial down payment in acquiring the property.  The FHRC will use proceeds from the lease to assist in the repayments of funds to the village, along with any legal or other engineering costs it may incur.  All proposals will be carefully vetted. 

It is anticipated that the FHRC will have five directors, which would include a chairperson. 

Collesano said "Our immediate goal right now is to re-open the parking lot for public use.  The Village of Lewiston has the manpower and equipment to improve the parking lot quickly and we'd like to do that before the summer season.  That parking will be a major shot in the arm for visitors and local patron's."

Collesano said, "How many times have we heard it? When are they going to do something? The time has come for Lewiston to take a neglected piece of important real estate and turn it into an economic engine that will drive Center Street commerce for decades to come.  If the Village can't save the Frontier House, then really, what can we do?  This is a priority and will be the shining example of a public-private partnership that benefits our citizens, our businesses and our local economy."

"Everything is on the table and we want to see ideas that involve business, professional, commercial, residential and multi-use plans.  Ideally, we would like to see proposals involving public access, especially on the first floor that would highlight the historical aspects of the building.  Bottom line - we are open to anything as long as the Frontier House is restored and becomes a viable working building again.  Our goal is to unleash the Frontier House's potential and make it Lewiston's crown jewel once again."

The Frontier House was once recognized as the finest hotel in the United States, west of the Hudson River and has always been Lewiston's premiere historic landmark.  Stage Coaches once thundered up to its doors when it served as a place to stop, when Lewiston was the center of the "Great Overland Route Across the Continent". Construction on the Frontier House started in 1824 and it opened its doors 18 months later in 1825.  It sits in the center of Lewiston's business district and is considered one of the most historic structures in Western New York. 

The Frontier House sits on nearly an acre of prime real estate with a building footprint of over 4300 square feet and hosts interior square footage of over 17,000.  It consists of a large basement area and four floors, making it Lewiston's tallest building.  


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