Hold your horses: Speaker aims to redevelop Queens racetrack

Hochul could say “neigh” to Adams’ plan for 200-acre Aqueduct track

The horses will soon gallop back to Belmont, and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams wants housing to take their place. 

During her State of the City address Wednesday, Adams called for the redevelopment of the 200-acre Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, which is expected to stop hosting horse races after renovations are complete at Belmont Park. 

The city owns an adjacent site, 26 acres of vacant land, next to the A train, which Adams said presents a “valuable opportunity for transit-oriented housing.”

She said the sites present a “generational opportunity” to build housing — both for rent and sale — as well as open space and other community amenities.

It was not immediately clear how many homes this plan would create, nor how the units would be spread across the city land and the racetrack, which is state-owned and would need buy-in from Albany. 

A spokesperson for the governor said she “welcomes any discussion about solutions to address New York’s housing crisis.” 

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Next door to Aqueduct, Genting Group’s Resorts World NYC has pitched a $5 billion plan to turn its Queens racino into a full-blown casino (meaning table games with dealers), and to build a 7,000-seat concert venue, a 1,600-room hotel and 3,000 units of workforce housing. They are competing for one of three downstate casino licenses.  

A representative for Resorts World did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Adams’ plan. Adams has previously expressed support for the casino, which is in her district, and Genting said in February that it would “welcome” a state process to reimagine the track once racing is consolidated at Belmont.

Adams also wants to explore opportunities to build housing on city library sites — incorporating and upgrading the libraries as part of the new development. 

She also re-upped a proposal to make an affordable option available in more rezonings under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program. That option requires 20 percent of a project’s units to be reserved for those making an average of 40 percent of the area median income. The City Council, however, can’t currently require that option on its own. Adams wants to change that as part of the proposed Zoning for Housing Opportunity Text Amendment.

Adam also said she wants to “double the city’s production of affordable homeownership opportunities.” 

Wednesday’s speech builds on the housing agenda laid out by the speaker last year. In November, the City Council signed off on Adams’ “fair housing framework” bill, which sets five-year housing goals for each of the 59 community districts.

The administration is waiting to see if the state legislature will revive a property tax break that fuels multifamily development in the city, along with a series of other changes aimed at ramping up construction. The state Senate and Assembly did not include the tax break in their one-house budget resolutions, but said they were discussing its revival as part of a broader housing package.