Apartments reduced from 5700 to 1507

New York: Hudson Yards casino project sparks community outcry over sacrificed housing

Reading time 2:24 min

Plans for a $12 billion casino development in Hudson Yards have drawn criticism from civic leaders who argue that the project sacrifices promised housing for a lavish gaming complex.

Manhattan's Community Board 4 (MCB4) has issued a stern letter to Related Companies/Wynn Resorts, alleging that the developer has failed to uphold a 2009 commitment to construct apartments on the West Side,” New York Post reported.

“MCB4 remains mystified how the Department and Commission of City Planning could review and consider such a plan which erases years of sound city planning and community efforts to replace it with such an anti-urban and anti-New York vision,” the letter issued on April 1st said, as per the report.

The proposed casino venture features an 80-story tower overlooking the Hudson River, intended to accommodate a gaming facility and hotel. Surrounding the tower would be office buildings, apartment towers, and a 5.6-acre park.

“MCB4 must note it cannot support the proposed project’s drastic shift from residential to commercial use designed around casino use,” said the 12-page letter sent to Andrew Rosen, Related Companies’ Chief Operating Officer of Hudson Yards, and Department of City Planning Director Dan Garodnick.

“MCB4 raises the following question to both the Related Companies and the City of New York. 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 a later date?” the letter asks.

According to MCB4, the existing plan for the Hudson Yards Special District, negotiated extensively in 2009, primarily emphasizes residential development, envisioning 5,700 apartments and a single commercial building integrated into the neighborhood with connecting public open spaces. However, the casino project drastically reduces the number of planned apartments to 1,507.

“Now, the applicant, Related Companies, solely in pursuit of casino dollars as a means to fund the platform over the WRY [Western Rail Yards], proposes to amend that plan out of existence in favor of 2 oversize commercial towers, one of a hotel with 1,750 keys, sitting on the equivalent of a 20-story base containing a casino,” the board said in the letter, signed by chairwoman Jessica Chait and co-land use chairs Jean Daniel-Noland and Paul Devlin.

CB4 board members contend that developers should at least consider scaling down the casino project to a single hotel, allocating the rest of the space to apartment buildings rather than office towers.

The housing removed to accommodate the casino was intended to be market-rate or luxury units, though CB4 officials note that Related Companies has previously utilized real estate tax exemptions to provide "20% to 25%" affordable housing in its developments.

“We are proud that our project on the Western Yards will deliver on all of the pledges made in the original zoning including affordable housing, 5.6 acres of green open space, and a public school," a Related Companies spokesman said.

Community support will play a crucial role in determining the recipients of up to three state casino licenses earmarked for the New York City/downstate region. State gaming regulators are expected to grant the licenses by the end of 2025.

Any casino proposal must receive approval from the state Gaming Facility Location Board, which includes local council members, state senators and assemblymen, borough presidents, as well as the mayor and governor.

In addition to the Hudson Yards project, other casino initiatives include bids from Mets owner Steve Cohen near Citi Field, the Thor Equities consortium in Coney Island, Bally's at Ferry Point in The Bronx, and Silverstein Properties in Hell's Kitchen.

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