A Native American architectural firm with extensive experience designing casinos and resorts has been chosen by the Seneca Gaming Corp. to design the casino planned for downtown Buffalo.
Thalden Boyd Architects, based in Tulsa, Okla., was chosen following a national search. The a 33-year-old firm specializes in the design of hotels, casinos and hospitality projects, with a portfolio that includes more than 100 casinos and 400 hotels.
The firm has done work for about 40 Native American tribes across the United States. It designed casino and hospitality facilities for gambling giants Harrah's and Caesars, as well as the Marriott, Radisson, Hilton and Omni hotel chains.
Thalden Boyd also designed the $250 million Morongo Casino Resort in Banning, Calif., one of the largest casinos in the country. The resort's 23-story hotel tower is California's tallest structure east of Los Angeles.
The architects' latest project, the $250 million Hilton Santa Fe North/Buffalo Thunder Resort is slated to debut this spring.
Barry Snyder Sr., president of the Seneca Nation of Indians and chairman of the Seneca Erie Gaming Corp., said there were three finalists. "In the end, we believed that Thalden Boyd will best be able to capture our vision for a world-class destination casino on our Buffalo Creek territory and create a facility that will bring a presence to the inner harbor area," Snyder said.
Thalden Boyd representatives Friday declined to discuss the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.
The Senecas also declined to provide details of Thalden Boyd's proposed design, although an official unveiling of the casino design could come later this month.
Thalden Boyd's portfolio reflects the world-class caliber of design the Senecas are seeking, said John Pasqualoni, Seneca Erie Gaming's president and chief executive.
The $200 million casino project is proposed for a nine-acre site along Michigan Avenue, between Perry Street and South Park Avenue, in Buffalo's Cobblestone District. The Senecas already demolished a warehouse on the site, which was once part of the H-O Oats milling operation.
The 80-year-old grain elevators at the corner of Marvin and Perry streets have been left standing for the moment, in response to calls from preservationists to save them. The Senecas asked the three design finalists to submit plans with and without the elevators, but said the costs of incorporating the silos into the casino project will be a key factor.
The Senecas also gathered bids from demolition firms for the cost of razing the L-shaped cluster of 36 concrete silos.
The Senecas plan a 100,000-square-foot casino that can accommodate 2,200 slot machines, 50 table games, restaurants, space for casino operations and a parking garage for about 2,500 vehicles. The competing architectural firms also were asked for a design that could support a hotel and conference center. The Senecas did not identify the other two design firms, one of which was local.
Meanwhile, casino opponents are continuing their efforts to block the Buffalo project through a dual legal challenge.
A state court suit filed by a group of local citizens has been assigned to State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Makowski with oral arguments scheduled for July 14.
The group also is pursuing a federal suit, which will be handled by Western District Federal Court Judge William Skretny. The parties are due in federal court May 8 for a scheduling conference to determine dates in that case.