Niagara Gazette

October 25, 2012

Senecas eye mall

Staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — The Seneca Nation of Indians announced interest Thursday in developing a new 400,000-square-foot outlet mall in the southern tier. 

During a press conference, leaders from the Seneca Nation said they are considering a plan - based on a retail feasibility study completed this summer - to build the proposed mall on a 108-acre site just off Exit 58 of the New York State Thruway in Hanover. 

Seneca leaders estimated that the project would create 250 jobs during construction and another 750 permanent full- and part-time positions once completed. 

If the project continues forward in the 2012-2014 presidential administration of Richard E. Nephew, it’s expected to create an estimated 250 construction jobs and 750 full- and part-time retail jobs when fully built out. By way of comparison, the Fashion Outlets Mall in the Town of Niagara is 526,000 square feet and employs 1,000 full- and part-time workers.

“If I am elected president, building this outlet mall and creating these jobs and this regional economic development will be a top priority of my administration,” said Richard E. Nephew, a candidate for the office of Seneca Nation president. 

Nephew was joined in the announcement by current Seneca Nation President Robert Odawi Porter and Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards. 

Seneca leaders announced that it has been determined that the best return for the Nation would come if the project is not built on restricted fee land. In this way, the county and state governments can benefit, as can all the people in the region and the Nation’s future employees, they said. 

“This is the sort of major retail project, especially in an area that lacks such a centerpiece, that my administration and Council Chairman Nephew have worked hard to bring forward,” Porter said. “This is a clear example of how the Nation seeks to diversify its economy beyond tobacco, gasoline and gaming in ways that benefit the entire region and especially the Seneca people.”

The proposed site for the mall is currently owned by the Seneca Gaming Corp. and known locally as the “bean field.” It’s located off Exit 58 of the New York State Thruway, close to the Nation’s Cattaraugus Territory. Officials estimated that between 30,000 to 40,000 average daily vehicle trips pass the proposed site.

“The Seneca Nation’s home is Western New York and the benefits of our investments stay here,” said Nephew. “For years, our government’s policy has been to create new economic development for our people that helps all of Western New York. This will be a key effort of my administration.”

Seneca leaders said the first phase of the project included a retail feasibility analysis, prepared by a national retail expert. They said the report was completed in July 2012 and concluded that the project area at full build-out has the potential to support approximately 400,000 square feet of gross leasable area of retail and restaurant space to create a strong outlet center hub. Seneca leaders also said the report suggests the proposed mall would capture a larger share of the region’s visitor base by elevating the profile of current attractions in the vicinity.

“This will be a major source of jobs in the Irving area, plus an attraction that will take visitors off I-90 onto routes 5 and 20, helping the existing businesses both here and on the Cattaraugus Territory,” said Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards.  

“This project is certainly regionally significant, and we are delighted that it is finally public," Edwards added. "This shows what good neighbors can do when working together.” 

Phase II for the Nation includes due diligence and seeking financing. Seneca officials said the Nation’s Council also must approve the project.