Seneca Nation Unveils Buffalo Creek Casino Design

March 27, 2012 Updated Mar 27, 2012 at 2:18 PM EDT

By WKBW News

March 27, 2012 Updated Mar 27, 2012 at 2:18 PM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - Seneca Nation of Indians President Robert Odawi Porter said it will take just six weeks deconstruct a structure that was once part of their original plan to build a new casino, before the economic downturn. Now, they introduced their new plan with a few big changes.

The rusted structure you may have seen from the I-190 on between Perry Street and Southpark Avenue has been the talk of the town for years. Now, it's coming down and the Seneca Nation is rebuilding.

"What you will notice is that this is the right size, a bit smaller facility. It's not too big and it meshes nicely with our other two facilities and it will be a big part of Buffalo economy for a long time," Porter said.


The Buffalo Creek Casino's re-design, as officials called it at a press conference, is a $130 million project on the 9.5-acre territory. Porter said it will not only bring new life to the Perry-South Park neighborhood but it will also add to the new waterfront development in Buffalo. He said it would bring major economic development to the area.

"It is not a small project. It will need 600 construction workers over the next year and hire a total of 500 workers," Porter said.

Those future workers, added to people already employed at the Seneca Nation's other two facilities in Niagara Falls and Allegany Territory, adds up to more than 4200 jobs across Western New York.

Now, as deconstruction begins, the nation said the materials from the old half built structure would not go to waste.

"As the steel beams come down they will be recycled and reused in the new facility," Porter said.

According to a news release:

The project, due to finish in the summer of 2013, is expected to provide approximately 600 construction-period jobs. The completed casino will need to fill 500 direct jobs, including inside jobs and others related to the operation, with a multiplier effect that will create another 500 jobs over time.

“This new casino will be a national design leader for casinos in urban settings,” said Nation President Robert Odawi Porter. “Our investment in this facility is our stake in our partnership with Buffalo’s Inner Harbor, the rejuvenation of the Perry Choice Neighborhood, and growth in the Old First Ward and along the Buffalo River. We are all in this together and we will succeed through collaboration.”

The redesigned casino is the result of months of community and stakeholder input so it integrates well with the nearby waterfront, the Perry-South Park neighborhood and the Old First Ward, as well as the growth along the Buffalo River shoreline.

When complete, the new casino will replace the current, slots-only casino that opened on the territory in 2007. The new design features a main stone-faced building containing the newest and highly popular slots, table games and a small, American-style restaurant and bar facility.

A four-story parking ramp backing on Marvin Street is part of the project and will be built behind the casino, which is at Michigan Avenue and Perry Street. Earlier this year, Seneca Gaming Corp. announced it hired the Hnedak Bobo Group, an award-winning, Memphis-based design firm, to create the new vision.
Preparation for the new casino began Monday, as workers started dismantling the steel frame erected as part of the now revised plans for the original casino. Work on the original project was suspended in 2008 as the economy began to soften. The dismantling process is expected to take five to six weeks to complete, with about 340 tons of the steel re-used for the new casino. Seneca officials expect to start construction of the new casino this summer.

“Dismantling the existing steel structure not only clears the site so our new vision can take shape, it opens the door to a modern concept designed to generate a prudent business model for downtown Buffalo. Our sights can now be clearly set on the future,” said Karen Karsten, chairman of the Seneca Gaming Corp. board of directors. “As we move forward, we are excited by the investments being made, by ourselves and by many others, to create an exciting destination atmosphere in the Inner Harbor and Buffalo River areas.”

Opened in 2007, the current temporary Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino underwent two expansion projects, in 2008 and 2010. The property now features 457 slot machines and attracts more than 750,000 visitors a year, making it one of downtown Buffalo’s most popular destinations.

The new casino blends the gaming attractions with development efforts planned for the Inner Harbor area. As part of the planning process, the corporation and its architects engaged in an ongoing dialogue with neighborhood representatives and local leaders about plans for downtown Buffalo. 

“The feedback we have received from those in the community has been tremendously helpful in shaping our project as an integral piece of the redevelopment process for the Inner Harbor area,” said Robert Chamberlain, senior vice president of design and construction, Seneca Gaming Corp.

Seneca Gaming and the Seneca Nation are also helping to redefine the neighborhoods surrounding the Buffalo Creek Territory with $1 million in grants to boost infrastructure, landscaping, lighting and signage in areas around the casino. Applications for grants for those improvements are due March 31 and awards are expected to be announced in late April.