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NIAGARA FALLS – Niagara County Community College is planning a roughly $200,000 upgrade to the facade of the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute.

A bid request was issued last month for engineering and architectural work for the Old Falls Street project.

Even though the facility is only a year old, the college was always planning to make improvements to the facade after the building was up and running, spokeswoman Paula Sandy said.

The purpose of the project, according to the bid documents, is to undertake facade modifications in order to make the facility “more revealing and appealing to local traffic as to what is available inside the facility.”

“Initially we focused almost entirely on getting the ‘school’ opened with classrooms, labs and so on, including opening the retail labs,” Sandy said in an email. “But now we can focus a little more on the retail entities themselves.”

The college opened the institute last fall in a section of the former Rainbow Centre mall on its south side.

The 90,000-square-foot facility includes classrooms and labs, a fine-dining restaurant called Savor, a delicatessen, pastry shop, bookstore, wine boutique and special-event space.

“The college has found that the south facade of the facility is not ideal,” the college wrote in its request for proposals. “Local traffic passes by without realizing that activities are conducted inside that may be of interest to them.”

Responses to the request for proposals are due by 3 p.m. Dec. 9, and college officials hope to complete construction by the start of June.

Interested firms were invited to a prebid meeting on Nov. 18. There were 18 firms represented at the meeting, Sandy said.

Baltimore developer David S. Cordish donated part of the mall to the college in 2010, and the college proceeded to develop the $30 million culinary school, moving its hospitality, tourism and culinary programs from the Sanborn campus to the long-vacant mall in downtown Niagara Falls.

Enrollment at the institute has increased about 20 percent since it opened, Sandy said.

email: abesecker@buffnews.com