Willets Point casino back on the table?

February 05, 2013 02:00PM

UPDATED, Feb. 5, 5:47p.m.: Will a casino come to Willets Point afterall? The owners of the Mets had placed their bets on developing a casino at the Queens site in order to win back some of the $162 million the team lost in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, the New York Post reported. Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz’s Sterling Equities had a proposal for a casino complex with a 500-room hotel and 1.8 million square feet of retail.

Wilpon and his partners had offered the city $100 million for the full 62-acre development site, and the Shinnecock Indian Nation joined in to operate the facility. However, city officials killed the casino portion for Willets Point on the grounds that the approval process would take too long.

But now the state Legislature is mulling over an amendment permitting Vegas-style gaming in New York State.

A city spokesperson declined the Post’s request for comment on whether the city would make moves toward building a casino if the Legislature approves the amendment.

However, a spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corp. asserted that a casino is not being planned for Willets Point.

“A proposal in 2011 that included a gaming use was rejected,” the spokesperson said in a statement this afternoon. “And the agreement with the Queens Development Group to clean up and transform this long-blighted area into a dynamic, mixed-use district expressly prohibits any gaming uses.”

As previously reported, Wilpon, along with Related Companies, received 23 of the total 62 acres at Willets Point to construct a $3 billion retail development, though with no casino. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said that this development would create 12,000 unionized construction jobs and 7,100 permanent positions. [NYP]Zachary Kussin