On October 10, Governor David Paterson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver agreed to the company’s bid – and its offer of $ 370 million in up-front payments to the state.
However, Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos faulted the choice, saying, “Governor Paterson has made a choice that may not be in the best long-term interests of the state or for the communities that surround Aqueduct. It is our belief that unless we make Aqueduct a true destination venue, this project will not generate the largest possible benefit.”
Last week, Skelos, after being assured by William Bissett, president of Delaware North, that their proposal always included a comprehensive vision for a world-class destination attraction that would be a catalyst for regional growth, joined with Paterson and Silver in approving Delaware North’s bid.
State Senator Serf Maltese, who represents the Aqueduct community, said, “Delaware North responded to the concerns voiced by Queens community residents and has provided more detailed information and a commitment to develop the area surrounding the track to ensure that Aqueduct becomes a destination venue with quality retail, business, hotel, conference and entertainment facilities.”
The proposed $ 250 million, 328,000 square foot gaming and entertainment center will have 4,500 slot machines and create in excess of 1,100 construction-related jobs and 1,000 jobs at the Aqueduct Racetrack gaming and entertainment facility. It is expected to generate around $1 million in revenue daily when the casino is completed in 15 months.
Delaware North said that like Las Vegas, food will be a key draw, with a 25,000-square-foot buffet with seating for 600 people, plus a steakhouse and Italian and Asian restaurants.
The facility, which is expected to draw 20,000 people a day, will also include a large food court, several bars and a stage for entertainment.
In addition, Delaware North said it plans to develop the surrounding area with a 350 to 500-room luxury hotel, 3,000 to 5,000-square-foot destination spa, 60,000-square-foot state-of-the-art conference center, 3,000-seat event center and 15,000 to 30,000 square feet of retail space.
Paterson called the agreement “a huge victory for the state” and one that “will provide a critical revenue stream” amidst the current fiscal crisis.
Commenting on Delaware North’s selection, Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton said that although there is still skepticism to be found in the community, the state has made its decision.
“Government is about compromise,” she said. “Community Board 10 has a well-earned reputation for its ability to get past differences of opinion, find common ground, and develop consensus in our community. We will work with Delaware North to insure that this project moves forward and delivers much need economic development for our community and the State.”