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TOWN OF NIAGARA – Expansion of the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls received environmental approval Tuesday as the Town Board approved a number of resolutions that clear the way for construction to begin.

The board, which has been reviewing the site plan and how the expansion will impact traffic, drainage, noise and air quality as well as aesthetics, voted unanimously to allow the work to start. As lead agent in the state environmental quality review process, the board had to substantiate a negative finding on the various impacts.

After months of study, voting on the review was postponed on Sept. 17 when Supervisor Steven Richards took the five resolutions related to the expansion off the agenda because of some last-minute “loose ends.” He later explained that the mall owners, Macerich, needed to sign a cross-easement agreement with Benderson Development to allow access through property occupied by Walmart, next to the mall.

The $71 million expansion included 50 new stores, an additional 170,000 square feet, 1,150 more parking spots, a new main entrance on Factory Outlet Boulevard and major renovations to the existing structure. Mall owners noted they are in steep competition with two mall expansions in Canada for the Canadian shopping dollar.

Purchased by Macerich in 2011, the mall originally opened in 1982 as the Niagara Factory Outlet Mall on the site formerly occupied by King’s Department Store. Undergoing renovations in 1995, 1997 and 2006, the mall now houses about 130 retail and food outlets.