As the New York State Gaming Commission continues early work in the process of picking three New York City-area casino sites, a new possibility has come to light.
Vornado Realty Trust, the city’s second-largest commercial landlord, is considering bidding on a license to build a casino at the the site of the soon-to-be-demolished Hotel Pennsylvania near Penn Station, the New York Post reported Monday.
“We are studying the possibility of applying for a casino license, but we have no deal in place,” a Vornado spokesperson told the newspaper. “Our most important criterion for any project is that it meet the economic development objectives and produce the transit and public improvements set forth in the state’s General Project Plan.”
Vornado won’t have much time to decide if it’s going to push through with the application process. While the New York Gaming Facility Location Board didn’t issue an application deadline when it released its request for applications earlier this month, Feb. 3 is the deadline for the first set of questions from prospective bidders.
It’s a crowded field of proposals
Vornado’s potential Midtown Manhattan proposal faces heavy competition, particularly considering that racinos in Yonkers and at Aqueduct Racetrack are considered major favorites to land licenses, potentially leaving only one other available. According to the Post, Vornado is in discussions with Chicago-based casino magnate Neil Gary Bluhm, the chairman of Rush Street Gaming, to develop the casino. The license fee is set by New York law at a minimum of $500 million, but prospective bidders can offer more as part of competitive bidding.
SL Green, New York City’s largest commercial real estate developer, also has proposed building a casino, this one in conjunction with Steve Ross’s Related Companies and Caesars Entertainment and based in Times Square. Other groups have proposed building at Hudson Yards in Midtown Manhattan, at Saks Fifth Avenue near St. Patrick’s Cathedral, near Citi Field in Queens, in Coney Island, and at other sites in and around the city’s five boroughs.
The Pennsylvania Hotel has a grand past, having hosted celebrities from Harry Houdini to Fidel Castro, but the hotel is slated for demolition by the end of the year. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has proposed a nine-block redevelopment around Penn Station, which could help Vornado build political support for its bid.