Soloviev Group Adds Affordable Housing to Casino Proposal Near UN

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The Soloviev Group is trying to make sure it doesn’t roll snake eyes in its proposal to build a casino in Midtown East by including 513 affordable homes in the development.

The proposed Freedom Plaza entertainment district would include not only a gambling house under Soloviev Group Chairman Stefan Soloviev’s vision, but also open space, a hotel, a performance space and a museum dedicated to democracy.

SEE ALSO: Housing Diversity Corp. Secures $67M for L.A. Affordable Housing Project

The proposal originally included a Ferris wheel and a sports fields, but recently nixed those plans.

The housing component of Soloviev’s plan, announced Thursday, would add a total of 1,325 apartments, with nearly 30 percent affordable. The developer hopes the housing will persuade the New York State Gaming Commission to award one of the three downstate casino licenses to a proposal with an aspect that provides a service to the community.

“Affordable housing, specifically the creation of new low- and moderate-income units, is a top priority in our city and nationally,” Michael Hershman, CEO of Soloviev Group, said in a statement. “We are dedicated to mitigating the housing crisis within our community and intend to develop more than 500 affordable units, while also introducing meaningful economic and social benefit initiatives.” 

The housing development would be in line with New York City’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) zoning with at least 30 percent of the units being permanently affordable and 80 percent of them being within the budgets of people earning below the average median income, according to Soloviev.

Soloviev, like the numerous other developers angling for a casino license, has partnered with companies that specialize in operating gaming facilities, in this case entertainment group Mohegan.

Mohegan is putting its own efforts into creating an economic benefit in the proposal with the Mohegan Momentum Partnership Program for New York City, which aims to incentivize hotel and casino guests to visit local businesses outside the proposed 6.7-acre Freedom Plaza near the United Nations.

Even with the affordable housing addition, Soloviev faces some stiff competition to secure the license.

Other casino proposals include The Related Companies with gaming partner Wynn Resorts wanting a facility in the western portion of Hudson Yards; Thor Equities, Saratoga Casino Holdings, The Chickasaw Nation and Legends trying to get a casino in Coney Island, Brooklyn; Point72 Asset Management’s Steve Cohen planning a gambling house next to Citi Field in Queens; and SL Green Realty, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and Caesars Entertainment eyeing a gaming floor in Times Square.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.