Larry Quinn should broker a Bass Pro deal with Seneca Gaming

Buffalo developer Larry Quinn has, at times, been a catalytic force for change in Western New York — whether in real estate, major league sports, or education policy.  He is universally respected across the political spectrum, perhaps aside from small and monomaniacal cadre of union operatives funded by the Buffalo Teachers’ Federation.

His leadership is needed in Niagara Falls, where there has been a leadership void for some time.  A revival of the Cataract City has been long delayed, in large part by a City Hall rife with mismanagement.  Too many private sector projects have been stalled, and too many public sector projects have squandered taxpayers dollars by the politics that happens there.

But on the Seneca Nation’s sovereign 50-acre territory in downtown Niagara Falls is not subject to the political whims of City Hall, or those of Albany for that matter.

Sources close to the Nation’s 16-member Tribal Council say that it’s likely that Quinn could convince the Seneca Gaming Corporation — and it’s CEO Holly Gagnon — to partner with his friend, Johnny Morris, the owner and founder of the massive outdoor sporting goods retailer.

The Nation is interested in developing a massive surface parking fronting Third Street in downtown Niagara Falls that could accommodate a flagship Bass Pro Shops in the heart of the tourist district. That the deal would be devoid of the regulatory red tape could expedite the project.

That Western New York is an extraordinary playground for the outdoorsman, the store could serve as a critical tool in promoting the region’s geographic landscape to tourists — and in extending the average road tripper’s stay by a few days.

For Bass Pro, there are obvious brand synergies that could stem from partnering with an Indian Tribe, and for Seneca artisans who are looking to market their high-end hand-crafted canoes and wood-carved Lacrosse sticks.  What better place to do so than at Niagara Falls?

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Depending on how a deal might unfold, the development could be an opportunity to promote Western New York brands to a national audience with new flagship venues.
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The portion of the property fronting Third Street could accommodate 280,000 square feet of underground retail space.  It also raises questions about the potential for adaptive reuse of the Seneca Gaming Corporation’s headquarters, housed in the 6-story former Marine Midland Bank building which sits largely empty.
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Urban planners have long complained that the vast surface parking lot fronting the Seneca Niagara Casino has prevented the Third Street and the Old Falls Street commercial districts from developing into each other, which would otherwise encourage advantageous pedestrian patterns.
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