Governor touts Genting convention center to legislators

Letter sent today calls project a “low-risk, high-reward business opportunity for the state”
By Katherine Clarke | January 10, 2012 05:30PM

[Updated at 6 p.m. with statement from Genting] In a letter sent today to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated his support for the construction of a Genting convention center in Queens adjacent to the Aqueduct Racetrack and urged the legislators to meet with him and gaming giant Genting in coming weeks to discuss the project. Cuomo said that the investment would pay off in 20,000 permanent and temporary jobs as well as a $4 billion investment in the state. It also, he wrote, is a “low-risk, high-reward business opportunity for the state.”

“The economic impact of the project would be enormous,” Cuomo wrote, “estimated to create thousands of construction and private sector jobs. The state investment would be minimal with potentially the greatest number of jobs produced in the state in many, many years.”

Cuomo also reassured the legislators that any transaction that the state makes with Genting would be submitted to the legislature for full review and action before becoming binding and that Genting is willing to work with the state’s labor unions for the project as well local communities and governments on zoning issues.

Genting said in a statement, “it’s a great time to invest and grow in New York.”

A spokesperson for Sen. Skelos told The Real Deal that the senator supported putting the proposition before the legislature to decide.

“We’ve been partnering with the governor on issues to help create jobs,” the spokesperson said, “and that’s the priority right now. [The convention center] is an ambitious plan and it is definitely something we’re looking forward to working with him on.”

As previously reported, the first phase of Genting’s proposal  includes the construction of 1,000 hotel rooms, theater and entertainment components, approximately 3 million square feet of convention and exhibition space, the expansion of VLT gaming space and a parking facility. The second phase would require additional land beyond the 67 acres currently under lease to Genting. The Port Authority of New ork & New Jersey controls an adjoining 22 acres which Genting is considering for an additional 2,000 hotel rooms and approximately a half million more square feet of convention and meeting space.

Silver was not available to comment by press time.