Sunday, June 10, 2012

Willets Point Still Targeted

In spite of all the setbacks and controversy there are still some folks arguing that Willets Point could become a desired location for a convention center/casino complex. Crain's reports:

"According to the Regional Plan Association, an urban development advocacy group, there are at least four viable sites in the city for the mega-project, including Aqueduct. (Genting said last week it was still pursuing the project, and Mr. Cuomo said the company is still in the running.) The other locations RPA identified are closer to Manhattan than Aqueduct, which is one hour away by subway."The trade show industry has always told us that their customers want to at least see Manhattan," said Robert Yaro, president of RPA. Willets Point, a 61-acre site in northeast Queens slated for redevelopment by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is seen as the trade show industry's first choice for a huge convention center—in addition to keeping Javits." (emphasis added)

But the obstacles facing the Willets Point site should not be discounted: "The city is close to a deal with the Related Cos. and New York Mets owner Sterling Equities to develop 12 acres at the site, which would include retail and residential units, but many hurdles remain, including a yearlong environmental study and City Council approval."

And then there's the need for a NYS Constitutional amendment to permit gambling in seven designated sites:

"The biggest impediment to a casino and convention hall project, however, is not a dearth of good sites but whether a constitutional amendment allowing full-scale gambling will pass in New York. The Legislature passed a proposed amendment this year to allow up to seven full casinos. A second vote must occur next year to confirm the intention; then New York voters would get their chance to weigh in on changing the state's constitution to legalize casino card games, roulette wheels, craps tables and other types of gaming.What's more, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has voiced opposition to locating a casino in Manhattan.Casino operators will most likely lose interest in New York—and their desire to fund a massive convention center—if the law is not enacted."

It looks like if there's no gambling the convention center will be scrapped-no money in that idea and it's only a Trojan Horse for the gambling interests. But meanwhile Willets Point remains in the cross hairs for all of the avaricious who believe, "What's yours, is mine."