The Daily Dirt: Why a casino was not in the cards for Vornado 

Steve Roth is not a gambling man

Vornado’s Steve Roth Casino Bid Decision
Vornado's Steve Roth and 2 Penn (Getty, Vornado; Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)

Three casino licenses and at least nine NYC bidders. Steve Roth did not like those odds. 

In his letter to shareholders, the Vornado Realty Trust CEO took a moment to explain why his company decided against entering the competition for one of the downstate casino licenses — even though it advocated for a casino in Manhattan. He also showed that he too loves a gambling puns.  

Roth said that while Vornado “may well have had a winning hand” with the Hotel Pennsylvania site, the “single most important financial imperative” for the company is completing leases at its revamped Penn 2. 

“It became very clear that the tenants who would fill this space would not locate across the street from a casino,” he wrote. 

He went on to say that he figured the odds of Manhattan getting a casino was no more than 50-50, and the chances of any individual site winning was around 10 percent. 

“So two billion dollars of value creation vs. a 10 percent chance in a long-tailed governmental process – this was an easy call,” he said.  

Now, if you will, please picture the face of Steve Ross, Marc Holliday, Larry Silverstein or Stefan Soloviev superimposed on Han Solo here because they are all taking that bet with Manhattan-based casino proposals: 

Vornado has nearly completed its $750 million renovation of the 1.8-million-square-foot office building at Penn 2. Madison Square Garden Entertainment agreed to a 20-year lease for the top seven floors of the building, spanning 428,000 square feet. Major League Soccer recently inked a deal to lease two floors. If you walk by there now, you can actually see the building’s entrance rather than a maze of construction sheds. Pretty neat!

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Roth’s letter, sadly, does not elaborate on the plans for the site of the former Hotel Penn, which has been demolished and (still!) goes by Penn 15. The company is reportedly considering a number of interim uses, including tennis courts for U.S. Open matches.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

What we’re thinking about: More than 40 lawmakers have indicated that they do not support trading an increase on individual apartment improvements for an amended version of good cause eviction. What will this ultimately mean for budget negotiations? Send a note to

A thing we’ve learned: The city is expected to release the draft text for the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity Thursday. On Wednesday, the Yes to Housing Coalition, which is made up of 125 organizations, held a rally in City Hall Park to promote the text amendment, which will, among other things, lift parking mandates for new residential construction and create a path for higher residential density, in the event that Albany lifts the city’s residential floor area ratio cap. 

After the rally, developer Jerrod Delaine said he was hopeful that more real estate industry folks will publicly lend their support to the proposal. 

“Many of us want to invest more in New York City,” he said. “The demand is there.”

Also in attendance was Slate Property Groupp’s David Schwartz, who said parking mandates in transit-rich areas needlessly increase the cost of building and lead to fewer housing units being built. He conceded that there are some areas that require more parking than others. 

After the rally, the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development said they are concerned that the Adams administration has not yet specified the affordability levels of apartments in buildings that are granted a density bonus through a new program dubbed the Universal Affordability Preference.  

“We are very concerned that there will not be enough time before the start of the formal review process for community members to digest the full proposal and be able to participate in the decision-making process in an informed and constructive way,” Emily Goldstein, director of organizing and advocacy, said in a statement. 

Elsewhere in New York…

— April is Fair Housing Month, in honor of the passage of the Fair Housing in April 1968. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that various state landmarks, including One World Trade Center, Moynihan Train Hall and the Kosciuszko Bridge, will be lit blue Wednesday night to commemorate the 56th anniversary of the law’s passage. 

— City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams is not crazy about the mayor’s new policy requiring elected officials to fill out written requests to speak with commissioners or other senior agency staff, the New York Daily News reports. The speaker told her members to ignore the directive. “The Council will not be adhering to this excessively bureaucratic and inefficient process that only undermines the work of city government on behalf of New Yorkers,” the speaker wrote in a letter to members. “I encourage you to go about your business on behalf of your constituents and New Yorkers, as usual.”
— The Adams administration on Wednesday announced the opening of parcel storage lockers in seven locations in the city in an effort to curb package theft, Gothamist reports. “We want to send a message to the porch pirates that your days are over of sailing away with our packages,” the mayor said.