Real Estate Tycoon Larry Silverstein Enters New York Casino License Race

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Silverstein Properties, owned by veteran New York real estate mogul Larry Silverstein, 92, is teaming up with Greenwood Gaming, owner of Parx Casino, for a proposed casino on Manhattan’s Westside in New York City.

Silverstein’s planned casino will be called The Avenir, as announced to investors and New York politicians on Wednesday.

As well as a casino space, it will feature two 43-story towers with a sky bridge between them, at least one hotel, an affordable housing development, and a performance hall venue.

New York State has three downstate licenses to issue in the coming year. A 10-year moratorium imposed in 2013 to help upstate casinos set up without competion is due to expire at the end of 2023.

According to The New York Times, Silverstein sees his casino as a way to boost tax revenues for the city in which he is a major landlord and investor.

“We do see it as a genuine need that the community has, the city and Albany,” Silverstein said.

“Will it be profitable? I presume so, because generally, this has been the case with casinos at large.”

Related: The top online casinos for New York players

License Competition

Silverstein has a lot of competition. About a dozen other billionaire investors and international casino operators are also in the race.

That includes a Caesars Entertainment and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z-backed casino in Times Square, New York Mets owner Steve Cohen’s plan to build a casino next to his own Citi Field stadium, and a $2 billion casino and redevelopment in Coney Island.

Things are further complicated as industry experts believe two of the three licenses are already destined for New York City’s two “racino” venues. They are Resorts World New York City in Queens and Empire City Casino in Yonkers.

For his part, Silverstein thinks that his company’s chosen site is the most suitable. For one, it already owns the land, located at 11th Avenue and 4th street in Manhattan. The site is also on the border between several of New York’s distinct neighborhoods, but not central to any of them.  

Various residents’ groups, local authorities, and business owners have voiced opposition to many of the proposed casino ideas. So a site that isn’t in the heart of any one community could have its merits.

Part of the Neighborhood

Silverstein Properties headed the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Silverstein held a 99-year lease on the property at the time of the attacks, and is remembered for his call to “pull it” when the fate of nearby Building 7 was being decided.

“Our company has been part of the Hudson Yards / Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood for nearly 40 years,” said Lisa Silverstein, vice chair of Silverstein Properties and daughter of Larry.

“The Avenir is an opportunity to create much-needed affordable housing, jobs, and economic development, along with many neighborhood improvements in an isolated and often-overlooked part of the city.”

Regardless of what he thinks of his proposed casino’s location, local resident and state Senate finance committee chair Liz Krueger (D-28) was still not enthusiastic.

“I don’t feel like there’s any momentum from actual voters or people who live here for a casino in Manhattan,” she told the New York Times.

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