NEW YORK CITY - The proposal to build an underground casino on the east side of Manhattan, near Midtown, is getting significant pushback from residents living nearby, who made their feelings known to elected officials and casino developers during a Thursday night community meeting.
Where is the proposed NYC casino location?
The Soloviev Group, in partnership with Connecticut's Mohegan Sun, has proposed constructing a gaming complex on land they own, spanning from E. 38th to E. 41st streets, between First Avenue and F.D.R. Drive, near the United Nations building.
(The Soloviev Foundation)
During the community meeting, developers explained how they would build the casino underground, with an entrance from the FDR. The space above ground would be used for green public space.
"The casino that is now being proposed is underground," said Manhattan East Community Association President Kevin O’Keefe. "So, a lot of it would be under green space. We're very much dedicated to more open and green space in Midtown East."
According to developers, they also plan for restaurants, hotels and new apartments, with a small percentage devoted to affordable housing. But the pitch didn't find a receptive audience from its would-be neighbors.
"We have young children. It's our schools. It's just not the mood that we want in our neighborhood," one resident said.
The interest in building casinos in New York City has grown following the state’s announcement that three licenses would be granted to the city or its suburbs. Other potential locations under consideration include Times Square, the Hudson Yards, Yonkers and Queens.
"We are having a town hall to collect as much feedback as possible if this proposal goes through," said New York State Sen. Kristen Gonzalez, who represents Midtown East.
It's important to note it will be months before the gaming commission has even begun to review applications for casino licenses. Once approved, getting a casino up and running in Midtown East or anywhere else could take years.