PHOTO: Should the plan be approved by the State, the estimated 750,000 square-foot expansion, which calls for 1,000 more video lottery terminals, would be completed by spring 2019. Courtesy of JCJ Architecture
By Michael V. Cusenza
Resorts World Casino New York City has mapped out a massive, $400 million expansion that its parent company hopes will transform the highly successful South Ozone Park entertainment facility into a Big Apple destination.
Ryan Eller, president of Resorts World NYC, presented the proposal last week to the State Franchise Oversight Board. The State must approve the plan before any shovels hit dirt.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, the 750,000 square-foot expansion project calls for the creation of a 400-room hotel, 140,000 square-foot convention space, a spa, and food and retail amenities.
Additionally, the gaming floor will expand as well, with 1,000 more video lottery terminals to be phased in on top of the 5,500 VLTs already humming at the racino that opened on the Aqueduct Racetrack grounds in the fall of 2011.
“Resorts World is extremely proud to be one of the largest contributors to New York’s education system, having already generated more than $1.5 billion for the state’s education fund in less than five years of operation,” said Michael Levoff, senior vice president of Public Affairs for Genting Americas. “This new expansion, and its corresponding increase in visitation to our facility, will result in a boost in revenue for both New York’s education fund and the state’s horse racing industry – while also acting as a catalyst for additional economic development in our local Queens community. Beyond providing additional revenue, this expansion will also add approximately 1,500 good-paying careers for New Yorkers and thousands of construction jobs.”
South Queens community leaders seem to be giving the plan a preliminary thumbs-up.
“Plans for expansion at Resorts World are a step forward towards the concept of a destination resort that has been part of the discussion with them since that concept was presented to the community back in 2010,” said Betty Braton, long-time chairwoman of Community Board 10. “We look forward to working with them as current plans take shape to ensure they are sensitive to community concerns and impact is positive. Our experience during the last five years with casino officials is that our concerns do factor into their decision making. We’re certain that will be the case as this new project moves ahead.”
State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said he sees a lot of positives.
“The proposal…has the potential to reap huge economic benefits on not only the surrounding neighborhood of Ozone Park, but the entire borough of Queens and state. This project would create over a thousand jobs in construction, design and other fields during the planning and building stages as well as thousands of long-term positions at each of the new facilities once the project is completed. Local job creation is crucial to our economy and such a large influx of job opportunities is rare. With a portion of gaming money from casinos across New York being given every year to fund and support education, an additional 1,000 VLTs and gaming at the site would also benefit schools throughout the state, as that funding would continue to grow. Resorts World is already the biggest contributor to this fund in all of New York State, illustrating the popularity of the gaming facilities at this location and how expanding the opportunity to play and experience the new amenities would only lead to more crucial dollars for state education and revenue.”