Manhattan Community Board Questions Related Cos. Wynn Casino Plan

Manhattan Community Board 4 (MCB4) has questions about Related Cos.’ plans to develop the next phase of Hudson Yards on the West Side of Manhattan, including a proposed casino hotel that would be operated by Wynn Resorts.

Hudson Yards in New York City. A proposed casino project at Western Yards is drawing the ire of Manhattan Community Board 4 (MCB4). (Image: CoStar)

In a recent letter, the board said it’s β€œmystified” as to why the real estate developer’s $12 billion plan for Western Yards features office space and the casino proposal when a 2009 pact between the board, the city, and Related called for the property to be primarily residential with 5,762 housing units. The newest plan calls for three towers β€” two of which would be zoned commercial and one that would have just over 1,500 residential units. One of the towers would be three million square feet and bear the Wynn name.

Why should communities around the City of New York work with the real estate industry and the City government to respond and agree to zoning changes with detailed site plans and Points of Agreement when such plans and agreements can be discarded at later date?,” wrote members of MCB4 in the letter to the city and Related.

Last month, Related COO Andrew Rosen presented a plan to MCB4 that would conform to the 2009 agreement because it included affordable housing, a new school, and open space β€” points the developer has frequently mentioned when discussing the casino proposal.

Related, Wynn Need MCB4 Support

Prior to the letter issued by MCB4, it appeared as though the Related/Wynn plan was one of the less controversial New York City-area casino pitches.

On the other hand, Manhattan policymakers have been reluctant to support the idea of a gaming venue in that borough, regardless of operator and location. For Related and Wynn, they need the support of MCB4, but the board appears to reluctant to grant it at this point.

β€œ(We) cannot support the proposed project’s drastic shift from residential to commercial use designed around casino use,” according to the letter.

If Related and Wynn are successful in procuring one of the three downstate gaming licenses, which New York regulators could award in late 2025, the casino would be located at the northern end of the property.

Other MCB4 Concerns

While the idea of a school located near a casino seems implausible in some parts of the country, Manhattan has limited real estate in which to build new schools, making that a source of allure with the Western Yards development plan.

However, some MCB4 members voiced concern that if the residential component features just 1,507 units with 324 deemed affordable housing, it’s possible not enough children will live there for New York officials to sign off on adding a new school.

The board also expressed concern that the plan for open space is an afterthought, noting it’s not β€œfully integrated” into β€œa full site plan” as highlighted by the fact that the current proposal indicates that space would be in between two of the towers.

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