Vornado Realty Trust, New York City’s second-largest commercial landlord, is weighing whether to bid on a casino license at the site of the soon-to-be-demolished Hotel Pennsylvania near Madison Square Garden, according to the New York Post. The shuttered hotel sits squarely in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed nine-block redevelopment around a “new” Penn Station.
Vornado is designated to develop five of eight office sites, where some buildings will be demolished and tenants evicted. That includes the hotel’s demolition, which will be completed by the end of the year. And as it moves forward with its plans, the company also considers the possibility of joining New York’s casino race for three downstate licenses.
“We are studying the possibility of applying for a casino license [in the Penn Station area], but we have no deal in place,” a Vornado spokesperson told The Post. “Our most important criterion for any project is that it meets the economic development objectives and produces the transit and public improvements set forth in the state’s General Project Plan.”
While Vornado’s statement didn’t mention a partner, a source confirmed to the cited source that chairman Steven Roth is talking to Midwest gaming mogul Neil Gary Bluhm – the managing principal of Walton Street Capital – who owns or is a partner in several first-class Chicago commercial properties and casinos in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Chicago and Schenectady, NY.
Should it truly want in on the action, Vornado will have to act quickly: a first round of questions from prospective bidders is due on February 3. However, no date has yet been set for the submission of applications. If Vornado decides to move forward, it would also pit Roth against “archrival” SL Green, the city’s largest commercial landlord.
SL Green has teamed with Caesars Entertainment in Times Square; while Related Companies and Wynn Resorts are eyeing Hudson Yards. Other developers include Hudson’s Bay Company, which hopes to put a casino at Saks Fifth Avenue; while Mets owner Steve Cohen may possibly team with Hard Rock for one at Willets Point, Queens; and Thor Equities is betting on Coney Island. Las Vegas Sands also confirmed this month it is eyeing Nassau County.
The owners of the existing slots parlors at the Aqueduct race track in Ozone Park, Queens and Yonkers race track — Genting’s Resorts World and MGM’s Empire City — are also set to submit bids, which would expand current offerings to include table games. The properties are believed to be solid candidates in the race, as they are established entities known to policymakers.
Another last-minute bid could come from businessman Larry Silverstein, who would put a casino at his so-called Mercedes-Benz site on Eleventh Ave, a source told the New York Post. Each bid will cost applicants $1 million. The state has not said when it will decide on the Big Apple winner.