Updated: January 26, 2012, 6:47 AM
NORTH TONAWANDA — A federal grant will contribute nearly $700,000 toward the rebuilding of an old marina, which will take place as a shuttered yacht club is refurbished into a new, public waterfront restaurant where boaters can pull in for a meal.
"This is very good news for people who have been looking for things to do along our riverfront," said Mayor Robert Ortt. "We hope to be able to do some work this spring."
To help bring new life to the former home of the Niagara River Yacht Club on River Road, next to Gratwick Park, the city has also been in the midst of setting up a lease agreement with the same company that runs Templeton Landing restaurant on Buffalo's waterfront.
Specialty Restaurants Corp. intends to renovate the old clubhouse and has tentatively named its new North Tonawanda restaurant "Lumberjacks."
Ortt expects the federal $686,919 grant, announced this week, to bring the city enough money to take care of the rest of the needs at the former yacht club site: repair of the docks and surrounding area so boaters can stop in.
The federal grant will be put together with $300,000 in Greenway money available to the city as part of the relicensing agreement with the New York Power Authority on the Niagara Power Project.
Now, with close to $1 million, the city will be able to start work this spring, at about the same time the California-based restaurant company will begin its renovation work, Ortt said.
"We're very confident this is going to go a long way," he said.
Ortt said that the restaurant will be open during the May-to-October boating season and that the company hopes to be ready in time for part of this year's season. "It would be a multiyear deal, probably with an option for renewal," he said of the pending arrangement.
The new federal grant, from the U. S. Department of the Interior, came in because of a September application submitted by Applied Technology Management, a South Carolinabased engineering firm that specializes in waterfront development.
Already, the city is in the midst of negotiating with a concert promoter to have three summer concerts along the river at Gratwick Park.
The city's long-percolating plans to attract people and offer more waterfront activities are developing nicely, Ortt said. Finding a new use for the old marina site, empty for about six years, was one of the issues he advocated during his campaign for mayor.
"A lot of things are coalescing," Ortt said. "Hopefully that will give a lot of positive economic results for the city."