Related Companies and Wynn to Bid for New Casino in Midtown Manhattan

The New York Times
Related Companies and Wynn to Bid for New Casino in Midtown Manhattan
Wild Casino

One of New York City’s most prolific developers on Thursday announced that it was teaming up with a Las Vegas gambling giant to bid on a casino in Midtown Manhattan.

The bid by Related Companies, the developer of Hudson Yards, and Wynn Resorts represents the first publicly announced bid for one of three new casino licenses open to city developers.

The casino would be situated next to the Javits Center on the still-undeveloped western portion of the Hudson Yards, the second half of the largest mixed-use private real estate development in American history.

In April, state lawmakers approved up to three full-service casinos for the New York City area, setting off a frenzy among gambling companies and real estate developers to tap into the crown jewel of the country’s gambling market.

The only casino-like option currently in the five boroughs is the Resorts World facility at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, which has video slot machines but no table games. Last year, Resorts World had the most gambling revenue of any casino property outside Nevada.

It will likely be several months before the casino sites are announced. The state’s gambling commission has until October to create a board that will manage the application process, which is supposed to begin within 90 days of its formation.

Steven Cohen, the owner of the New York Mets, has also been in talks with Hard Rock to develop a casino near Citi Field, the team’s stadium, according to someone familiar with the discussions.

Related Company officials have been struggling for years to formalize plans for the undeveloped western half of Hudson Yards, a thicket of active rail lines on Manhattan’s West Side that will require a nearly 10-acre platform to be built above them. The first part of Hudson Yards, featuring a luxury mall, office towers and condominiums, opened in 2019.

The original agreement called for Related to build six residential buildings, including 265 below-market-rate units, parks and a school on the western half by 2025. In recent years, the developer has explored other options, including trying to convince officials at Madison Square Garden to relocate to the area. Related has also tried to renegotiate its agreement with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns the rail tracks, according to two people familiar with the efforts.

To a large extent, the proposal’s fate will depend on the willingness of local elected officials to accept a casino in Manhattan.

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In order for the Related-Wynn proposal to proceed, it would have to win approval from a yet-to-be-formed, six-person community advisory committee. Mayor Eric Adams will have a representative on the committee, as will the governor, the local City Council member, the borough president, the local Assembly member and the local state senator.

Both Mr. Blau and Stephen M. Ross, the billionaire chairman of Related Companies who also owns the Miami Dolphins, have been generous donors to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s campaign. Mr. Adams has close ties to Mr. Cohen, who helped bankroll a super PAC that supported his candidacy during the 2021 Democratic primary.

“The gaming commission will decide on where these casinos will be located, but we are hoping two of the three downstate casinos will be placed in New York City,” said Fabien Levy, a spokesman for the mayor.

For decades, New York City officials and developers have debated what to build in Hudson Yards, a formerly industrial neighborhood in Midtown that was dominated by the uncovered tracks. In the early 2000s, the site became the centerpiece to the city’s bid for the Olympics, with plans to build a football stadium that would also be used by the New York Jets.

If a casino were built, it would likely open at a time of even more transformation in the neighborhood. Ms. Hochul has proposed a large real estate project around the nearby Pennsylvania Station that would include 10 high-rise buildings constructed by 2044, and would form a nearly contiguous corridor of towers from there to Hudson Yards.

Until recently, one of Mr. Adams’s senior advisers simultaneously worked as a vice president at the Resorts World facility in Queens, which is thought to be one of two leading contenders for a license. The other is Empire City Casino in Yonkers, N.Y., which is controlled by MGM Resorts. With full casino licenses, they could expand to offer live table games like poker and blackjack.

While Manhattan has long been considered one of the last, best untapped gambling markets in the country, any casino bidder will likely have to overcome significant resistance.

“Related and Wynn have a steep hill to climb to convince local residents that a casino in Hudson Yards is in their best interests,” said Brad Hoylman, the state senator whose district includes Hudson Yards.

Other casino and real estate companies are eyeing sites throughout the city. Thor Equities, a real estate firm, has expressed interest in building a casino on Coney Island in Brooklyn. Earlier this year, Marc Holliday, the chief executive of SL Green Realty, a major office developer, said in an earnings call that Times Square would be the best location for a casino.