Silverstein Properties is going all in on a bid to win a coveted New York City gambling license, with plans to develop a mixed-use hotel, casino and residential mega-complex on 11th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen.
The real estate giant — known for developing and managing neighborhood residences River Place and Silver Towers — announced their proposal for a 46-floor, 1.8-million-square foot project at W41st Street and 11th Avenue, previously the site of a Mercedes Benz dealership, in a press release today. Tentatively named the Avenir and created in partnership with Greenwood Entertainment and Entertainment Affiliates and designed by architects Steelman Partners and CetraRuddy, the two-tower complex, connected by a public “sky bridge” will include 1,000 luxury hotel rooms, a 1,000-seat performance venue, at least 100 units of below-market housing and an eight-story, 600,000-square foot gambling and entertainment center that features 12-full service restaurants and a gallery showcasing local artists.
“Our City and State face a confluence of historic challenges right now,” said Chairman of Silverstein Properties Larry Silverstein in a release. “These include a housing crisis, public safety challenges, budget shortfalls and a commercial real estate market in transition. We need to work with State and local leaders to do everything we can to make New York the best place to live, work and visit. We’ve done it before, and I am confident we can do it again. I’ve always said you should never bet against New York; this City and State will come back bigger and better than ever before.”
Silverstein and fellow executives say the Avenir, which would sit adjacent to the Javits Convention Center, would be a much-needed economic boon to the area, creating 4,000 union construction jobs, 5,000 permanent union jobs and “billions” of dollars in revenue for the city. Silverstein representatives added that the hotel’s performance venue would be “available for use by local community and school groups along with world-class concerts in a stunning, intimate setting.” The release added that “the hall will be designed to complement – not compete with – Broadway theaters.”
“We are excited to join with Silverstein Properties to create a gaming, leisure and entertainment destination that will reflect the unique character and spirit of New York City and attract visitors from all over the globe,” added Eric Hausler, Chief Executive Officer of Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment. “We are a company with deep roots in our communities. We look forward to working with the Hell’s Kitchen and Hudson Yards communities’ elected, civic, and labor leaders to create something that serves the neighborhood and its residents.”
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The real estate company purchased the property in 2015 for $100 million and previously proposed creating a mixed-use condo complex and retail towers at the site. Silverstein now joins an already competitive race of developers and casino companies vying for the state’s three New York City gambling licenses, including plans from Hudson Yards developer Related and Wynn Resorts to build a 3-million square foot casino at the Western Rail Yards, as well as a pitch from SL Green and Caesars Entertainment to install a casino in their 54-floor office building at 1515 Broadway.
According to reports from Crain’s, Related and SL Green have invested at least $176,000 and $161,000 respectively in lobbying efforts, hoping to sway Midtown’s Community Board 4 and local legislators from the area’s six-person Community Advisory Committee, comprising Governor Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams, Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, City Council Member Erik Bottcher, Assembly Member Tony Simone and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. Senator Hoylman-Sigal and CouncIl Member Bottcher were, according to the New York Times, in attendance at a meeting on Wednesday at Silverstein’s 7 World Trade Center HQ to be briefed on the plan. W42ST has reached out to Bottcher, Hoylman-Sigal, Simone, Levine and the Manhattan Community Board 4 for comment on the proposal — a spokesperson from Council Member Bottcher’s told W42ST that “All of these proposals are long shot bids that would face an uphill battle to get approved. I look forward to a public process in which all community members are given the opportunity to see the proposals for themselves and make their voices heard.”
Said Assembly Member Simone: “I have long been against the concept of a casino in Manhattan and I approach each of the now three proposals in our district skeptically. For any casino to get through the Community Advisory Committee, they will have to demonstrate strong community support, and based on what I have heard from constituents thus far, any proposal will have a large hill to climb.”
Several of the advisory committee members have previously expressed skepticism about an influx of casinos in Midtown, citing resistance from their constituents over potentially overwhelming congestion and competition for independently owned local businesses. In Times Square, The Broadway League, in partnership with the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association, Hell’s Kitchen Block Association, W47/48th Street Block Association, Manhattan Plaza Tenants Association and CHEKPEDS pedestrian safety group, among others, have created a website entitled “No Times Square Casino” to petition against Midtown gambling venues. Larry Silverstein has publicly expressed his aversion to the industry, telling media outlets: “I don’t go to racetracks — I don’t go to the casinos. I don’t do any of that, but I enjoy buying real estate.” Silverstein told the New York Times that despite his misgivings about gambling, “My personal predilections are subordinated to the needs of the community at large.”
For now, the real estate giant will have to wait to see if they win the jackpot — licenses are not expected to be granted until 2024.