Caesars Palace casino proposed for Times Square office tower
New York City’s bustling entertainment hub may soon welcome a casino. Developer SL Green and Caesars Entertainment on Thursday announced plans to pursue a gaming license for a potential Caesars Palace casino in the heart of Times Square at 1515 Broadway, a 54-story office building. The bid comes after the state legislature in April approved up to three casinos to open in the New York City area.
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“We believe that Times Square offers the best location for a new resort casino that can attract tourists and benefit local businesses. We’re excited to pursue this license with Caesars and our many local partners. Our approach will ensure that under-represented communities benefit both in terms of employment and investment opportunities,” Marc Holliday, CEO of SL Green, said.
“A casino in Times Square is in keeping with existing uses in the area. Times Square is the center of the entertainment universe. Because we are proposing a renovation, once the license is issued, we can open quicker than other facilities, which require entirely new construction, changes in law, and will be disruptive to their local communities.”
Following the redevelopment of the current building, the proposed Caesars Palace Times Square will include a hotel, wellness center, theater space for The Lion King, and an expansive selection of entertainment, food, and drink options.
SL Green and Caesars have pledged to use its loyalty program to make “strategic partnerships” with local businesses that will further support the area’s economic recovery, according to a press release. Caesars Rewards members will be able to use their credits at nearby Broadway theaters, local hotels, restaurants, shopping stores, comedy clubs, entertainment venues, and more.
Included in the proposal are security and traffic improvements, including additional security staff and new cameras. SL Green and Caesars also propose improving mass transit to reduce vehicle congestion, making the area safer for pedestrians.
While the industry has been gradually recovering, Broadway attendance and revenue are still way behind pre-pandemic levels, and its future is uncertain as many theatergoers and office workers have not returned to the area due to a rise in violent crime, according to the New York Times.
New York State legalized casinos in 2013 but agreed not to establish any downstate until 2023. In April, the state approved three casino licenses for the NYC region.
MGM’s Empire City Casino in Yonkers and the Resorts World facility in Queens’ Aqueduct Racetrack are both leading contenders for the licenses, as they already have horse race betting and electronic lottery games but no table games.
There is already another bid for a casino in Hudson Yards by developer Related Companies and casino mogul Wynn Resorts. The bid would face political barriers, requiring approval from at least four out of six members of the community advisory committee, according to NY1. Two of those members, Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, have already expressed doubts about the proposed casino.
The Broadway League, a trade organization that represents theater owners and producers, came out against the prospect of a Times Square casino, citing its potential impact on Broadway.
“The addition of a casino will overwhelm the already densely congested area and would jeopardize the entire neighborhood whose existence is dependent on the success of Broadway,” the Broadway League said in a statement. “Broadway is the key driver of tourism and risking its stability would be detrimental to the city.”
However, other groups like the Actors’ Equity Association supports the proposal, stating that a new casino could help drive sales for theaters and local businesses.
“The proposal from the developer for a Times Square casino would be a game changer that boosts security and safety in the Times Square neighborhood with increased security staff, more sanitation equipment and new cameras,” Actors’ Equity said in a statement. “We applaud the developer’s commitment to make the neighborhood safer for arts workers and audience members alike.”
This month a state committee was formed to review casino applications. A request for applications will be issued by January 6 and licenses will not be announced until “sometime later in 2023 at the earliest.”
1515 Broadway is also known as One Astor Plaza, the former site of the Hotel Astor which resided in the building from 1904 to 1967. Developed by Sam Minskoff and Sons, the building was designed by Der Scutt of Ely J. Kahn & Jacobs.
The structure has a Broadway theater on its third floor and a cinema in its basement level that is now an entertainment venue called Palladium Times Square.