Soloviev Group Ready to Light Up East Side of Manhattan, Eyes New Casino

Posted on: September 25, 2023, 08:21h. 

Last updated on: September 26, 2023, 02:16h.

On roughly six acres of undeveloped land, the Soloviev Group is prepping an integrated casino resort bid on Manhattan’s East Side, just south of the United Nations. In the interim, Soloviev is planning a public art installation called the “Field of Light at Freedom Plaza.”

Soloviev Group New York casino United Nations
A conceptual rendering of the Field of Light at Freedom Plaza on Manhattan’s East Side near the United Nations. The Soloviev Group hopes to one day build a casino resort on the roughly six acres of land where the public art installation will sit for most of 2024. (Image: The Soloviev Group)

The Soloviev Group is controlled by billionaire Stefan Soloviev, the son of the late Sheldon Solow, who died in 2020 with a net worth estimated north of $4 billion. Soloviev has opted to use the ancestral spelling of his family name.

In 2000, Soloviev’s father acquired the undeveloped six-acre tract, located between 38th and 41st streets east of First Avenue, for about $600 million from ConEd. The purchase included three additional acres that have since been sold and developed.

Soloviev has teamed with Mohegan, the gaming and hospitality unit controlled by the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut, for his New York City casino dreams. Dubbed Freedom Plaza, a blueprint revealed earlier this year suggests a casino, a 1,000-room hotel, two residential towers, and a sprawling Ferris wheel in the center of the property overlooking the East River.

Soloviev is one of many expected bids for the three downstate New York gaming concessions. Other notable companies expected to submit a proposal include Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, Genting Group, Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, and Hard Rock International.

Light Show

Downstate New York casino hopefuls are trying to sweeten their deals by showing how they would be strong community partners and benefit the areas where they would operate if licensed.

In Coney Island, for example, the group behind a $3 billion bid paid for new basketball uniforms and T-shirts for youth hoops players participating in Brooklyn USA Basketball. Sands hosted a youth soccer clinic on Long Island with soccer superstars David Beckham and Carli Lloyd demonstrating their skills.

The Soloviev Group hopes to demonstrate its intentions to improve the East Side along FDR Drive by bringing a public art installation to the property as the casino application review process plays out. Soloviev has hired internationally acclaimed artist Bruce Munro, known for his immersive site-specific art installations, to design the Field of Light at Freedom Plaza.

To “honor New York’s enduring spirit,” Soloviev recently unveiled conceptual renderings of the public art space that will be free to guests and “present meaningful opportunities for community engagement and educational programming.”

“Field of Light at Freedom Plaza stands for boundless imagination and the freedom to dream. It is my hope that it warms hearts and inspires both young and old to take from it and create something of their own to pass on to others,” Munro said in a release.

Munro previously worked in New York City at the Guggenheim Museum where, in 2010, he was among an invited group of artists to “imagine their dream interventions” in the inspirational rotunda of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed rotunda.    

Art Details

Field of Light at Freedom Plaza will feature approximately 17,000 low-light, fiber-optic stemmed spheres to create a “painted landscape framed by the city’s iconic skyline and the East River waterfront.”

The art space is slated to open this winter and remain in place for 12 months. The art project is expected to cost $1.5 million, with Soloviev funding the initiative through The Soloviev Foundation.