The Niagara Casino Gateway Project was started in 2001 and opened in June 2003. The project cost around CDN$1 million. The 2.5 million ft² of hotel/casino area overlooks Niagara Falls, more specifically the Horseshoe Falls (the building used to be the site of an old power station at the falls). The development will involve the construction of a new high-rise hotel consisting of 32 floors with 368 rooms and a 100,000ft² a temporary casino and a 200,000ft² permanent casino. The temporary casino is still open in 2008 due to demand. It is located on an eight-hectare site on Murray Hill and is a 30-minute walk from the Falls, Skylon and Minolta Towers, Imax Theatre and Casino Niagara. Additionally, it is close to Queen Victoria Park, Helicopter Rides, Maid of the Mist Steamboats and Clifton Hill Museums, Marineland, Butterfly Conservatory, Great Gorge Adventures as well as the Winter Festival of Lights, running from mid-November to mid-January. The Shaw Festival is in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a 20-minute drive north of Niagara Falls. The casino is owned by the Crown Agency but is managed by the Falls Management Company (finance, design, build, operate).
HOTEL, MEETING AND EXHIBITION SPACE AND ENTERTAINMENT
The development includes a 368 room Hyatt hotel, 72,000ft² of meeting and exhibition space, a 1,500 seat live theatre venue (Avalon ballroom), a selection of dining facilities, including The Famous Pumpernickel’s, Golden Lotus (a Chinese restaurant which opened in 2007), The Falls & Firkin, Johnny Rockets, Mama Mia’s Restaurant & Tavern, Sweet Point, Juice Rush! and the Canyon Creek Chophouse, plus a comprehensive 15,000ft² health spa, fitness centre, an array of shops and between 40,000 and 50,000ft² of convention space and a 3,000 car park.
The project involves the development of a 100,000ft² casino. The casino complex features 3,000 slot machines, a 1,000 seat theatre and 150 gaming tables. The temporary casino (Casino Niagara was opened in 1996) and still houses 2,800 slot machines, 135 gaming tables, four restaurants and eight bars.
The construction of the casino involves 7,500t of structural steel and 900,000ft² of steel deck, as well as 200t of architectural steel to build the casino entrances.
GENERATING EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC MOMENTUM
The Casino Gateway Project has generated over 5,500 permanent direct full-time and part-time jobs and 5,000 indirect jobs. The project is one of the largest commercial developments in Canada.
The project has certainly helped to stimulate the local economy, as well as generate $100-125 million in contracts for mechanical, electrical and concrete work.
PRESERVING ENVIRONMENT AND OPTIMISING EXISING SPACE
A fundamental element of the project, namely the design of the casino, was to preserve the environment and natural beauty of the Niagara escarpment, stimulating the use of existing and envisioned local tourism facilities. This is in line with international trends: optimising existing space, as well as linking a development with its surrounding natural and developed sites, and thus strengthening an entire tourism area.
BOOSTING TOURISM IN NIAGRA
The Niagara Falls Casino/Gateway Project, incorporated in the larger vision to transform the Niagara Falls region into an unique, all year-round tourist destination and will draw from and develop its already existing tourism base.
There are many nearby attractions in the local region such as a 12,000 seat indoor and outdoor amphitheatre. Future off-site developments associated with the project include the
12,000-seat amphitheatre, the Marineland ‘River Country’ expansion and financial support for a new people-mover system.
Niagara Casino Gateway Project is a private project involving the following parties: Falls Management Company (developer and operator), Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (crown agency), Casino Niagara (casino operations), Zeidler Roberts Partnership Architects and Bregman + Hamann Architects (joint venture architects), as well as Dougall Design Associates Inc. and Moncur Design Associates Inc. (interior theme design) and Yolles Partnership Inc. (structural engineering), Agilys (electronic management system for casino and hotel) and Ferris Quinn Associates (landscaping). Additional parties involved include: Hidi Rae Associates Inc. and The Mitchell Partnership (joint venture mechanical engineers), Mulvey + Banani International (electrical engineers) and PCL Constructors Canada Inc. (construction manager).
Kramer Design Associates, Ltd. (KDA) developed a sophisticated signage, branding and graphics program of the Niagara Falls Casino / Gateway Project.
The Canam Manac Group Inc. of Saint Georges de Beauce was contracted by the general contractor PCL Constructors Canada Inc. for the fabrication and installation of the structural steel and steel deck involved in the construction of the casino.
The Canam Manac Group Inc. is an industrial company specialising in the fabrication of steel joists and construction components, semi trailers and forestry equipment.
Aluma Systems has provided equipment for the construction of the hotel/casino tower and designed and supplied special core forms and interior platforms for the tower elevators. Aluma Systems also supplied equipment, labour and engineering services for the 2,300-car parking structure.