Real estate mogul Larry Silverstein owns one of the most well-established development firms in New York City. To put things into perspective, the firm was in charge of the redevelopment of Manhattan after 9/11.
In his latest efforts at developing the island, Silverstein is focusing on a new casino. More specifically, an integrated resort and casino hotel on Manhattan’s West Side. This comes after NYC authorised up to seven commercial casinos in the Empire State in 2013. This law also prevented competition for ten years.
Now that the 10-year period has passed, many firms are vying for a piece of Manhattan’s brick-and-mortar gambling landscape, while New York’s online gambling perspective is still remaining unknown. Besides Silverstein, those interested include MGM Resorts, Genting, Caesars Entertainment, Hard Rock, and several others.
Silverstein Properties has a plan for undeveloped land at 41st Street and 11th Avenue. It’s a 2.1 acre site across from the Javits Center, also owned by Silverstein Properties. It’s a major convention and exhibition facility.
Its location borders several neighbourhoods without being too central, something Silverstein Properties claims to be important. In such a location, it’d be less likely for the development to make residents upset.
The plan is a hotel resort and casino complex called Avenir. It would have two towers with 46 stories and 1,000 luxury rooms. The casino is planned to occupy eight stories with about 600,000 square feet. If it comes to fruition, it will be one of the biggest casinos in the world.
The towers would be connected by a sky bridge. On the top of one, a 1,000-seat performance hall is planned. However, it’s not all about luxury. Silverstein claimed that the project would also include 100 affordable homes.
According to Silverstein, this project wouldn’t require any displacement of current residents. It also doesn’t require any infrastructure investments from the city. Silverstein is very interested in making this project work. It’d be his first casino project, and he will partner with Parx Casino to operate the casino if he succeeds.
According to him, the city and state face a series of historic challenges, including a housing crisis, public safety issues, budget issues, and a transitioning commercial real estate market. His project aims to make New York a great place to live, work, and visit.
He even went on to claim his bid is selfless. He thinks casinos can provide tax revenue, and New York State needs it to develop the transit system, vital to New York City.
Silverstein isn’t the only one bringing fresh ideas. Other competitors have unique proposals, such as a Ferris wheel and a roller coaster. In fact, ten teams are trying to secure one of the three licences that will be granted for casinos.
One of them includes SL Green Realty Corporation. It touts itself as the largest commercial landlord in New York City and, together with Caesars Entertainment, it wants to build a casino in Times Square.
Others, such as Related Companies and Wynn Resorts, want to build a casino on the Far West Side of Manhattan. Wynn Resorts offers an incredible casino in Las Vegas among others. New York Mets owner Steven Cohen wants to build a casino next to the Mets Stadium in Queens with Hard Rock. The list goes on.
Even though there are three licences, most competitors think it’ll really come down to just one. This is because two of them are expected to go to Resorts World New York City at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens and the Empire City Casino in Yonkers.
They are slot machine parlours beside horse tracks looking for a full-scale casino licence. Since they’re already established, almost everyone thinks they will get two licences. It makes the competition even more fierce.
Because there’s no deadline yet, details on many projects are still obscure. Even then, some details have surfaced. For instance, the Cohen proposal involves a 25-acre park with a casino and connections to Flushing Bay.
Political Sentiment Brings in Doubt
Policymakers and politicians are on the fence about a new Manhattan casino. For instance, Liz Krueger, chairwoman of the State Senate’s Finance Committee believes that voters or Manhattan inhabitants wouldn’t be excited about these projects.
Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Councilman Bottcher’s districts are part of the Silverstein project, and both attended a meeting recently where Silverstein pitched the project. Neither has made any comments.
It is interesting that Silverstein has expressed a dislike for gambling in the past. In an interview in 2017, he mentioned he didn’t go to racetracks or casinos. Instead, he preferred buying real estate. Recently, he clarified that his personal feelings about gambling had little to do with the project.
Again, he assured that the casino would be a good idea for the community in helping bring solutions to many of the current issues plaguing the city. Only time will tell if Silverstein or any of the other parties succeeds.