NYC proposes zoning change to make it easier to develop casinos
Freedom Plaza rendering by Negativ
New York City is proposing an update to its zoning rules to make it easier for developers to build casinos across the five boroughs. The City Planning Commission (CPC) on Monday started a seven-month public review process for a zoning text amendment that would permit the construction of casinos as of right in specified commercial and manufacturing districts without going through the city’s uniform land use review procedure (ULURP). Instead, casino proposals would only need approval from the state and the NY Community Advisory Committee to move forward. The proposal, officially filed on Friday, comes as several developers publicly bid for one of three downstate licenses.
Casino proposals would still be required to go through a lengthy approval process without ULURP under the updated rules. For each application, a local Community Advisory Committee (CAC) comprised of the governor, mayor, and local officials will be created to determine community support, host public meetings, and ultimately vote on the proposal. Only applications approved by a two-thirds threshold will be considered.
According to CPC Dan Garodnick, applicants in New York City are at a disadvantage to suburban applicants since gaming facilities are not currently allowed under the city’s Zoning Resolution.
“As the state considers proposals for casinos downstate, it’s important that we create a level playing field for applicants within New York City so they can compete for this opportunity,” Garodnick said.
“This text amendment would avoid duplicating the state’s rigorous licensing process, which includes local representation on the CAC, while setting up a rational framework for consideration within our zoning.”
Under the proposed amendment, the city would allow for the development of gaming facilities in commercial districts C4, C5, C6, and C7, and in manufacturing districts M1, M2, and M3.
The proposal will need approval from community boards, each borough president, and the Planning Commission itself before heading for a final vote before the City Council.
The city’s proposal benefits proposed casino plans introduced by prominent developers since the state legislature approved licenses for three new casinos in the NYC area in April 2022.
Soloviev Group’s Freedom Plaza proposal, which would bring a casino, a hotel, two residential towers with over 1,300 apartments, a performance venue, and a museum to a 6.7-acre plot near the United Nations, falls within the C5-2 zone.
New York Mets owner Steve Cohen’s $8 billion proposal for “Metropolitan Park,” a sports and entertainment complex across from Citi Field that includes a Hard Rock-run casino also lies within a zone that is approved for commercial use. The same goes for the SL Green Realty and Jay-Z-backed Caesars Palace casino in Times Square. However, Cohen’s plan would also require state authorization to build on the Citi Field parking lot, which is city-owned and state-regulated.