Silverstein, Parx Casino Join NY Casino Race

Real estate mogul Larry Silverstein (l.) and his firm Silverstein Properties, in partnership with Greenwood Gaming, owner of Pennsylvania’s Parx Casino, have joined the race for a license to operate a casino in New York City.

Silverstein, Parx Casino Join NY Casino Race

Real estate magnate Larry Silverstein and his Silverstein Properties development firm have joined the race for a downstate New York casino, partnering with Greenwood Gaming, the owner of Parx Casino in Pennsylvania.

The partners are proposing to build a 1.8 million-square-foot casino complex on 92,000 square feet of undeveloped land at 41st Street and 11th Avenue in New York City.

Dubbed the Avenir casino, the entertainment and hotel complex on Manhattan’s far west side would create 4,000 union construction jobs and more than 5,500 permanent union jobs.

Silverstein’s pitch for one of three casino licenses to be made available in the New York City region would bring billions of dollars in economic development for the state and the city and “can be shovel ready” upon approval, a press release states.

The project would be designed by Steelman Partners and Cetra Ruddy, and would include 1,000 luxury hotel rooms, restaurants, and a variety of gaming and entertainment options just north of the Javits Center. The development also has a residential component, and would bring more than 100 affordable apartments to the area amid what the parties call a “historic housing crisis.”

The Avenir would comprise two 46-story towers connected by a public sky bridge and include 1,000 luxury hotel rooms, an eight-story, 600,000 square foot gaming, entertainment, and restaurant complex at its base, more than 100 units of affordable housing, and a 1,000-seat performance hall on its top floor.

The project site is fully owned and controlled by Silverstein, the firm that redeveloped much of the World Trade Center site after the Twin Towers were destroyed on 9/11. According to the release, the Avenir site, four blocks west of Times Square, is “free of complex logistical infrastructure hurdles,” such as a heavily congested immediate area, the need for residential or commercial displacement, or the construction of a large support deck.

“Our city and state face a confluence of historic challenges right now,” said Silverstein, chairman of Silverstein Properties, in the release. “These include a housing crisis, public safety challenges, budget shortfalls, and a commercial real estate market in transition.

“We need to work with state and local leaders to do everything we can to make New York the best place to live, work, and visit. We’ve done it before, and I am confident we can do it again. I’ve always said you should never bet against New York; this city and state will come back bigger and better than ever before.”

“We are excited to join with Silverstein Properties to create a gaming, leisure, and entertainment destination that will reflect the unique character and spirit of New York City, and attract visitors from all over the globe,” said Eric Hausler, chief executive officer of Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment.

“We are a company with deep roots in our communities. We look forward to working with the Hell’s Kitchen and Hudson Yards communities’ elected, civic, and labor leaders to create something that serves the neighborhood and its residents.”

Silverstein and Parx confirmed that they plan to submit a proposal to the state’s Gaming Facility Location Board for official consideration.

“We welcome the opportunity to design the Avenir, an integrated resort in New York City,” said Paul Steelman, CEO of Steelman Partners. “We have designed entertainment, hotel, and casino spaces all over the world, and with each space, we focus on creating value that fits seamlessly into the neighborhood and the cultural fabric of which they are a part.”

In an interview with the New York Times, Silverstein suggested his bid was largely selfless—he said he is invested in the city’s future.

“We do see it as a genuine need that the community has, the city and Albany,” Silverstein said. “Will it be profitable? I presume so, because generally, this has been the case with casinos at large.”

It is a novel argument in a crowded, well-financed field of competitors with unique pitches (one proposal involves a roller coaster; another, a Ferris wheel).

Silverstein and Greenwood’s bid will join around 10 others in a competition for one of up to three licenses for full-scale casinos in downstate New York.  The field includes SL Green Realty, which wants to build a casino in Times Square with Caesars Entertainment; Hudson Yards developer Related Companies and Wynn Resorts, which have proposed a casino on Manhattan’s Far West Side; hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen, who owns the New York Mets and plans a bid for a casino next to the team’s Queens stadium; and Las Vegas Sands, which wants to put a casino in Nassau County.

Local media reports have cited sources within the state government in predicting that two of the three available downstate licenses will go to Resorts World New York City at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens and the Empire City Casino in Yonkers, allowing the established racino operation to expand into full casinos.