Times Square Landlords Back SL Green’s Casino

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Times Square landlords are hoping SL Green Realty doesn’t lose big on its bet for a casino in Midtown, Commercial Observer has learned.

Jamestown’s Michael Phillips has joined a group of commercial owners in the neighborhood calling itself the Coalition for a Better Times Square that see the prospect of SL Green’s planned Caesars Palace Times Square at 1515 Broadway as a beneficial addition to the amenities already on offer for tourists and workers in Midtown.

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“Unlike other casinos, this is a casino that I would say is amenity light and is relying on the amenity base in the surrounding neighborhood to be the attraction and the co-tenancy, which is a great way to think about an urban casino,” Phillips told CO. “Most of the people who talk about Las Vegas, talk about concerts, theater and food. They don’t talk about gambling … The gaming culture has created an entertainment engagement that has now to some extent eclipsed the gaming.”

The coalition was launched last December, backing SL Green, Caesars Entertainment and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation plan to put a casino in the Crossroads of the World.

It originally included the Mason Tenders’ District Council of Greater New York, Construction and General Building LaborersLocal 79 and the Actors’ Equity Association. The coalition now boasts support from Levin Management, Rosemark Management, Soho Properties, Moinian Group, Wharton Properties, RFR HoldingsAby Rosen, Ian Schrager Company and Stillman Development

“Times Square exemplifies the culture, energy and optimism of New York City and is justifiably referred to as the crossroads of the world. It is the destination for the domestic tourist as well as the international traveler and a playground for New Yorkers from all five boroughs,” Rosen said in a statement. “No location in the city is more suitable for the beginning of our gaming industry than Times Square, being the No. 1 tourist destination and hub for entertainment, hospitality, retail and transportation.”

While there has been support, the burgeoning gaming house proprietors have experienced pushback from theater organizations. 

In November 2022, the Broadway League argued that Times Square does not have the same economic components that Las Vegas or Atlantic City have and that while it would benefit a low-income neighborhood, it is not suitable for Manhattan.

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 the Soloviev Group banding together with Mohegan for an entertainment district by the United Nations.

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