Real estate investment and development firm Silverstein Properties and gaming operator Greenwood Gaming are joining the downstate New York casino race through a proposal to build a casino complex in Manhattan. The 1.8 million square foot project would be located on 92,000 square feet of undeveloped land at 41st Street and 11th Avenue.
According to the parties, the Avenir casino, 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. Mogul Larry 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 calls for 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 and is shovel-ready upon approval, the real estate development firm says. The site is also billed as “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.
Led by real estate magnate Larry Silverstein, Silverstein Properties redeveloped much of the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. While Silverstein has never owned or invested in a casino, the company argues it is well poised to drive economic recovery to the City and the State. Another key feature being touted is that given the site, four blocks west of Times Square, borders several neighborhoods but is central to none, the location is less likely than others to raise residents’ hackles.
"Our City and State face a confluence of historic challenges right now," said Larry A. Silverstein, Chairman of Silverstein Properties. "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."
Silverstein is partnering on the Avenir with Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment and affiliates, the owner and operator of Parx Casino in Philadelphia, for casino expertise. Parx Casino in Bensalem, PA, opened its doors in 2009 and has since turned into the highest-grossing casino-entertainment complex in the state.
"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, the 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 announced they plan to submit a proposal to the State's Gaming Facility Location Board for official consideration through the State's Request for Applications process. Steelman Partners and CentraRuddy were unveiled as in charge of the design of the 46-story two-tower complex, which will include a public sky bridge that connects the towers on the 45th floor.
"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.”
As for the hotel planned for the Avenir, Silverstein, which has already developed two Four Seasons hotels – Four Seasons New York Downtown and Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort – said it is in “discussions” with luxury hotel operators about the proposed 1,000 hotel rooms as part of the Avenir.
But securing a license to develop the Avenir complex won’t be an easy task for Silverstein and Greenwood. Their bid is just one amid a crowded field of competitors teeming with unique and multi-million pitches. About 10 teams are expected to bid for one of up to three licenses for full-scale casinos in the region.
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 indicate people familiar with the bidding process expect that two of the three available licenses will go to Resorts World New York City at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens and the Empire City Casino in Yonkers. A license would allow the two so-called racinos to offer full-scale casino gaming options.