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Friday, 25 April 2014 08:13

SCR’s Big Week

By | News

- $300 Million E. Greenbush Casino Bid 

- Planned $30 Million Local Expansion Submitted To State  

 

 

"When one door closes another door opens…”

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Never has the above expression been truer for Saratoga Casino and Raceway (SCR) than this week. 

 

In a dramatic announcement on Tuesday, April 22 that could prove to have extensive regional economic implications, SCR revealed plans for a $300 million world-class destination resort casino in the Thompson Hill area in the Town of East Greenbush. The Rensselaer County site has strategic proximity to Albany, the entire Capital Region and, via access to nearby interstate highways, the entire Northeast. 

 

At the same time, plans are proceeding with a local $30 million expansion on the SCR grounds. This plan had been originally announced on May 28, 2013 and had been billed as part of SCR’s necessary strategic development plans, regardless of the results of the outcome of an expanded gaming scenario on its grounds. These plans are proceeding at it’s own pace through the appropriate government agencies. 

 

Further, there are strong indications that SCR will file another application for a casino site in the Catskill Region, specifically around Newburgh and Route 17K. These plans were scheduled to be presented after press time to the Newburgh Town Board at a special meeting 7 p.m. Thursday at the Town of Newburgh courthouse. Readers are advised to look for an update at saratogatodayonline.com

 

But meanwhile, there is plenty that is known on the two pending projects that have been announced:

 

$30 Million Expansion in Saratoga Springs

 

A comprehensive site plan, complete with environmental impact statements and supporting documents has been filed with the New York State Gaming Commission. Locals who are interested in reviewing these documents can find a copy in the Planning office in Saratoga Springs City Hall. 

 

The notable highlights of this expansion plan includes: 

- A 120-room hotel with guest spa, indoor pool and lobby bar 

- A 24,000 square foot multi-purpose event center 

- A signature fine dining restaurant.

 

According to the summary provided by SCR officials “The expansion plans include the creation of 260 additional jobs at the facility, and an additional $9 million in annual payroll expenses, bringing the total number of employees to 900 and yearly payroll expenses to $27 million.”

 

“From the beginning, we have worked closely with our local leaders to drive increased tourism to our community and are excited to be able to use these plans to bring more focus to Saratoga as an international resort destination,” said Rita Cox, Senior Vice President of Marketing. “With these plans, we will be expanding our marketing efforts to attract visitors from areas outside the Capital District and throughout the entire Northeastern Region.”

 

Ultimately, approval of this project, or portions of it, rests with the state. The City of Saratoga Springs has been designated as an “involved agency,” in that they will need to provide extra water and sewer hookups and other services. So they can be described as having a “seat at the table,” if not ultimate decision-making authority. SCR had previously stated its intentions to have its plans reviewed by city land-use boards although they are not required to do so.

 

Next Steps: At some future point (expected to be soon) the Gaming Commission will start the clock on a 30-day “review period” in which the City Council, and through them, presumably other concerned parties may be heard. Mayor Joanne Yepsen has stated that she might call a special council meeting on this subject alone should the timing warrant it. 

 

There have been concerns expressed by downtown Saratoga Springs entities and other interests, including the Saratoga Springs City Center and Saratoga Performing Arts Center about the scope of the project in general and the multi-purpose event center particularly. 

 

According to SCR officials, given timely approvals the construction timeline anticipates work beginning in spring 2014 and the opening of the expansion project in spring 2015.

 

$300 Million Facility in East Greenbush

 

The bullet-point highlights of this project:

- 100,000 square foot overall destination resort casino development

- 300-room hotel

- 20,000 square feet of high-end retail

- Multiple entertainment venues including a nightclub, sports bar and showroom

- An estimated 1,700 construction jobs and an estimated 1,700 permanent jobs at the facility.

 

This does not even begin to include the spillover effects, ancillary businesses, hotels and enterprises throughout the adjacent area. If you need a visual, search out a picture of Kissimmee, Florida before and after Disney World arrived and you’ll get a general idea.

 

Next Steps: Many. The application-filing deadline is here. The review process begins, with an expectation that siting decisions will occur this fall.  

 

SCR bills their E. Greenbush casino proposal as a “game changer,” and if it comes to pass, there can be no doubt that it would be, on several levels. Of course, it is one of a few possible proposals in the Capital/Saratoga Region for a casino and only one will eventually be sited – at this time. This is also true in the Catskills area, which may be a more crowded application field.

 

"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us."

- Alexander Graham Bell

 

On second thought, never has this expression been less true for Saratoga Gaming and Raceway than on this week. 

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