The long awaited lease agreement with Amtrak to use the new intermodal facility in Niagara Falls, New York, is finally a done deal.
The city said that the lease has been agreed upon four months after the city held an open house at the station. That event included a visit from an Amtrak display train.
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster said the delay occurred because the city had never negotiated a lease like this before.
“The lease is as we expected it and as Amtrak would have expected it to be, but it took a very long time to get it done,” Dyster said.
Although no date was given for when service will begin, Thomas J. DeSantis, the acting director of planning, said Amtrak can move in at any time. He expects that to occur by the end of November.
The station took a decade to plan and build. It is the first new Amtrak station to open in New York state since Albany-Rensselaer opened in 2002.
Under the terms of the 20-year agreement, Amtrak will lease 29,360 square feet of the station, which is 63 percent of the building.
Amtrak will pay on a quarterly basis 63 percent of the operating costs, including personnel and maintenance.
The passenger carrier will also pay a a one-time upfront fee of $50,000, which the city would hold to begin paying for its share of the station costs.
Amtrak’s fee is an estimated $172,000 a year, but DeSantis said there is no way of knowing the full costs.
The other costs of the facility will be shared by the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center Museum, which will lease 2,880 square feet and a yet-to-be-determined tenant that will lease 4,650 square feet of commercial retail space.
The station will have a customs and immigration facility.
City officials are seeking to arrange for Canadian customs to move to the U.S. side of the border and they would like to see Toronto’s GO Transit trains terminate in Niagara Falls, New York.
GO Transit has limited service to Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Amtrak’s New York-Toronto Maple Leaf passes through Niagara Falls and two Empire Service trains terminate and originate there.