Queens Casino Backers Pledge $1B In Community Perks

Posted on: February 13, 2024, 03:41h. 

Last updated on: February 13, 2024, 04:01h.

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen is promising to deliver $1 billion in community benefits if New York regulators approve his plan to bring a casino hotel to Queens.

Queens casino
Citi Field in Queens, home of the New York Mets. Queens casino backers are pledging $1 billion in community benefits if the project is approved. (Image: Getty Images)

Cohen is partnering with Hard Rock International, the gaming arm of Florida’s Seminole Tribe, on the Queens casino effort. The billionaire financier and the tribal gaming giant are scheduled to present their plan at a town hall meeting at the New York Hall of Science on Thursday night. Before that confab, a representative of the Metropolitan Park plan met with local residents and community leaders to discuss how a new gaming venue in Queens would bring benefits beyond the casino to the borough.

We have learned through three years of conversations with the people who live and work in Queens that serving the interests of the communities surrounding Citi Field must be at the center of this project,” Cohen said in a press release. “Committing over $1 billion in benefits and transit improvement is critical to achieving a shared vision for the area we can all be proud of.”

Cohen’s goodwill efforts come as some community groups step up opposition to the not-yet-approved gaming venue. Last week, a coalition of groups led by Flushing for Equitable Development and Urban Planning (FED UP) proposed turning the Willets Point area into a park while retaining the parking space used for Mets games and other events at nearby Citi Field.

Queens Casino is a Potentially Tough Lift

The Willets Point area, which is where Cohen and Hard Rock want to build a casino resort, has been notoriously difficult to develop.

Currently designated as parkland, the property has essentially served as no more than a parking lot for decades despite multiple efforts to make better use of it. The parkland designation is relevant because for the property to be used for another purpose, that designation must be removed by legislative action — something State Sen. Jessica Ramos isn’t yet on board with. Ramos, a Democrat, represents the area including Citi Field and Willets Point.

New Green Willets LLC, the Cohen-backed group supporting the casino effort, has consistently said the $8 billion plan will be about much more than a casino. It will feature an entertainment and dining district designed to attract locals as well as ample green space that will be open to the public.

For his part, Hard Rock Chairman Jim Allen views a Queens casino as an economic engine, noting it will create thousands of jobs “with competitive salaries and benefits and life-long careers.”

Some Queens Casino Perks

As for how the $1 billion in community benefits will be disbursed if the Queens casino comes to life, there is already some sense for how that spending will materialize. QNS reports that $10 million will go to a health clinic in East Elmhurst while the same amount will flow to a youth and senior center in Corona. Another $5 million will be spent on an addiction and mental health counseling center in Flushing.

Those could be among the reasons groups such as the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens back the casino plan.

When the borough and the bidders will learn their fates remains up in the air. In an optimistic scenario, New York regulators will award the three downstate casino permits before the end of this year, but some industry observers believe the process is likely to stretch into 2025.

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button