Coney Island Casino Pitch Dubbed ‘The Coney,’ as Details for $3B Project Emerge
Posted on: March 3, 2023, 02:45h.
Last updated on: March 6, 2023, 12:47h.
The Coney Island casino proposal from New York real estate giant Thor Equities in a consortium that includes Saratoga Casino Holdings, the Chickasaw Nation, and Legends Hospitality has a name — “The Coney.”
Thor officials revealed the project’s name through a press release that additionally disclosed renderings of the integrated resort.
The proposal seeks to place a casino and resort near the famed Coney Island Boardwalk and iconic 150-foot-tall Wonder Wheel.
Thor executives have secured a roughly five-acre plot at Surf Ave. and W. 12th St. If the project receives one of the three downstate casino licenses from New York’s Gaming Facility Location Board, Thor says the company, along with its development partners, will invest $3 billion to transform Coney Island into a gaming destination that would help revitalize the town that’s seen better days.
Should The Coney prevail in what’s expected to be a highly competitive bidding war for the coveted downstate concessions, the casino would be within walking distance of Coney Island’s marquee attractions. Along with the Wonder Wheel, Coney Island is best known for its Cyclone wooden roller coaster, Luna Park amusements, and Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs stand.
The Coney will help revitalize Coney Island, bringing year-round jobs and world-class entertainment to Brooklyn and New York City,” said project spokesman Eric Koch. “The project’s revitalizing power will help drive a Coney Island comeback for a community that has lagged behind Brooklyn and the rest of New York City in several areas, including a higher poverty rate, unemployment rate, and higher rates of New Yorkers without health insurance.”
Coney Island was a popular summer destination for New Yorkers during the early part of the 20th century, but visitation began declining following World War II. Crime subsequently increased, and the region fell into economic hardship starting in the 1960s.
Numerous revitalization efforts have been tried in the decades since, but most New Yorkers don’t consider Coney Island today a first-class vacation destination.
Thor, whose founder, Joe Sitt, is a Coney Island native, has for many years sought to help the Lower New York Bay community turn its fortunes around. In 2005, Sitt pitched a Las Vegas-style hotel and amusement park and spent more than $100 million purchasing land around the Boardwalk. That project, which Sitt planned to model after the Bellagio on the Las Vegas Strip, never came to fruition.
$500M Fee, $500M Minimum
If Thor Equities and its casino partners are awarded one of the downstate New York casino licenses, the group must pay $500 million for the gaming license. New York’s casino rules then require the license holder to invest a minimum of $500 million into the resort’s construction.
The downstate casino bids have been forming over the past several months.
Las Vegas Sands wants to spend as much as $5 billion on Long Island to build an integrated casino resort at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. In Queens, billionaire Steve Cohen has suggested building a casino resort with Hard Rock International at his Citi Field MLB ballpark, home to his New York Mets.
In the Bronx, the Bally’s Corporation and Trump Organization are developing a casino pitch near the latter’s Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point.
In Manhattan, hedge fund tycoon Stephen Ross is partnered with Wynn Resorts for development at his Hudson Yards complex. A separate casino scheme targeting the East Side just south of the United Nations comes from billionaire Stefan Soloviev and Mohegan. Finally, Caesars Entertainment and SL Green, a leading New York real estate landlord, want to place a casino in Times Square.
Resorts World New York City in Queens near JFK Airport and Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway are heavy favorites for two of the three downstate licenses. Both racinos currently only offer video lottery terminals and electronic table games.
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