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               SENECA MALL: BUFFALO (WEST SENECA), NY

Rick Schilling's Commentary:

Posted November 20, 2006 (user submitted)

I grew up in the South Buffalo neighborhood near the Seneca Mall. It was within walking distance from my house and the first choice shopping destination because of this. This was the early to mid 80's and the mall was still thriving. I bought many 45's as well as my first CD at Cavage's (a local music store found in most of the malls in those days). The Hengerer's (later Sibley's) store had a restaurant upstairs which overlooked the mall. It was a popular spot for breakfast with Santa and from there you could see the big round fireplace that was in the center of the mall in front of Sattler's (a local department store that went under in the early 80's). Every Easter they would set up incubators and hatch chickens in the center of the mall (fascinating to a six year old). There was also a Friendly's at the other end of the mall near JC Penney (with its groovy blue/green 60's era Penney's signage) as well as an outlot Ground Round. The AT&T phone center was near the main entrance and in those days the price signs on the phones still featured the price to rent the phones as well as to buy them.

The McKinley Mall opened in 1985 and the Seneca Mall held on at first, but with only one anchor (JCPenney as Sibley's moved to McKinley) it limped along. Then the Walden Galleria came along in 1989 and Pyramid lured JCPenney out by purchasing its Seneca Mall store. This proved a significant blow to Seneca because after the mall was finally closed its demolition was held up for years while Pyramid and the town of West Seneca and countless lawyers wrangled over who owned what.

Meanwhile potential tenants for the big-box Shops at West Seneca (Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Old Navy) got tired of waiting and built locations elsewhere, leading to a general retail consolidation around the area's three remaining strong malls (Boulevard, Galleria, McKinley).

When the Shops at West Seneca finally opened it featured one store, a Tops International Supercenter grocery store. This soon joined by a Big K.

The rest of the site is to this day filled with piles of dirt surrounded by a fence.

Jack Thomas' Commentary:

Posted October 5, 2003
(with info provided by Debbie Scott, RJ Multari, and Jay N.)

This mall opened in 1969 to provide a vital link to the consumers of the West Seneca / Orchard Park suburb area of Buffalo. This mall was located near the inersection of Ridge Road and Orchard Park Road, one of the busiest inersections in West Seneca. The mall's anchors were as follows: JCPenney, which was complete with late 60's decor and the 60's style logo, Sattler's, and a store called Hengerer's which was later replaced by Sibley's.

This mall seemed to do well in the 70's and early and mid 80's, but in the late 80's started to falter. Satteler's closed in 81 or 82. The building was never occupied after that.

In 1985, The Mckinley Mall opened less than 2 miles away. As expected, some stores moved to the new mall, but the last two anchors stayed. In 1989 however, the super-regional Walden Galleria opened for business 5 miles away. First, Sibley's closed, then finally JCPennney closed and smaller stores went at an alarming fury. This mall went from healthy to dead in less than two years.

The mall sat vacant until 1999 when the new Shops at West Seneca opened with a Big Kmart and a Tops Supermarket. Other plans included a Sony 24 Screen theater, which never materialized. A Home Depot, Wal Mart, and Lowes were also planned. Those plans never came to fruition ethier. Piles of rubble and dirt still remain from the demolition. They are in a fenced in area near the outlot bank, which is the only part of the original mall that exists.

Quite obviously, the Seneca Mall is another example of what happens when a Super Regional mall engulfs all the malls surrounding it. Ironically today, the surrounding properties are booming with businesses, and this dead mall is located next to the Thruway which provides direct access to the property.










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