Max Kotlowski offers $1M for Falls Restaurant
City of Saint John hasn't extended Tuesday deadline for bids to demolish landmark over Reversing Falls
Max Kotlowski, a Saint John businessman, is making a last appeal to spare the old Reversing Falls Restaurant from demolition by offering $1 million for the property.
Kotlowski says he is hopeful the city will consider his proposal, even though it hasn't extended its Tuesday deadline for bids to demolish the building.
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Kotlowski says he is ready to write a cheque for $1 million to take over the building immediately.
"I have the money. I put a sell order in for some stocks I have," he said Tuesday on Information Morning Saint John.
"The building needs to be saved. Without the Reversing Falls facility, the attraction is going to die. If the Falls dies it all dies."
The landmark building and tourism centre closed late last year.
This is our historic tourism spot. Niagara Falls is Ontario's, we have the Reversing Falls. it's not the same but it's another destination.
It is now set to be torn down as part of a proposed $36 million rebranding plan the city has for the location.
It would include a new lookout plaza, tidal clock and visitor information centre. However, earlier this month Mayor Mel Norton said that kind of spending is not in the works for the near future.
And there are no financial commitments from the provincial and federal governments to date.
Kotlowski says he also has grand plans for the property.
"I want to make it a star," he said. "I would refinish the outside with new siding, super clean the interior top to bottom, I would replace the worn carpet, replace the door hinges, put new toilets in, I want to freshen it up."
Kotlowski says some councillors have been sympathetic to his bid and discussions have been underway.
Coun. Gerry Lowe read through the proposal, but says it's not a decision to be made on the spur of the moment.
"I mean, I'm not saying it's a bad idea. I would say if everything worked out it would be an excellent idea," said Lowe.
"But there are complications to it."
Kotlowski says as long as the old restaurant is still standing, he won't give up on his dream of turning it into a world famous attraction.
"I've travelled to many countries around the world and I've seen the Taj Mahal, famous places, and even as a tourist I recognize this is where people want to come," he said.
"This is our historic tourism spot. Niagara Falls is Ontario's, we have the Reversing Falls.
"It's not the same, but it's another destination," he said.
The restaurant and tourist information centre was built on top of a foundation that anchored an earlier bridge on the sharp rock face at the Reversing Falls. The building was subsequently expanded and remodeled.
It sits across from the former site of the historic T.S. Simms & Co. Limited paint brush factory, which was demolished last year. That landmark structure was built in 1912.