Vornado Realty Trust is set to join the city’s Great Casino Sweepstakes by rolling the dice at a gambling base near Madison Square Garden, The Post has learned.
The city’s second largest commercial landlord is considering whether to bid on a prized casino license on the site of the soon-to-be-demolished Hotel Pennsylvania, a source familiar with the situation told The Post.
The shuttered hotel – where legends from Harry Houdini to Fidel Castro once stayed – is housed in the government’s Cathy Hochul home Proposed, nine-block redevelopment around a “new” Penn Station, Vornado has been designated to develop five of the eight office sites, where some buildings will be demolished and tenants evicted. The demolition work of the hotel will be completed by the end of the year.
Vornado, which rarely responds to media inquiries, broke its silence about a potential casino bid when contacted by The Post.
“We are studying the possibility of applying for a casino license [in the Penn Station area], but we do not have a deal in place,” said a spokesperson for Vornado. “Our most important criteria for any project is that it meet economic development objectives and produce the transit and public improvements set forth in the state’s General Project Plan.”
“We fully support the state’s GPP for Penn District,” Vornado’s statement reiterated.
A partner was not mentioned in Vornado’s statement, but a source confirmed that Chairman Steven Roth has been talking to Midwest gaming mogul Neil Gary Bluhm, the managing head of Walton Street Capital, which is valued at $6 billion by Forbes. Has an estimated property of Rs.
According to Forbes, Bluhm, 84, is a partner in several first-class Chicago commercial properties and casinos in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Chicago and Schenectady, NY. He also bets on the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox, and sits on the board of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
The Vornado must act quickly if it is to get in on the action. The first round of questions from potential bidders is due on 3 February. However, no date has been fixed yet for the submission of applications. Three casino licenses are expected to be issued at downstate locations, with at least one in five boroughs in addition to expansion options.
If Vornado decides to go all in on a casino bid, it would pit Roth against archrival SL Green, the city’s largest commercial landlord, and Steve Ross’ related companies, among others.
SL Green has done in association with Caesars Entertainment in Times Square, Related Companies and Wynn Resorts Eye Hudson Yards; The Soloviev Group wants a site on First Avenue near the United Nations; The Hudson’s Bay Company hoped to set up a casino at Saks Fifth Avenue; Mets owner Steve Cohen could potentially team up with the Hard Rock in Willetts Point, Queens; And Thor Equities is gambling on Coney Island.
Another last-minute bid could come from Larry Silverstein, who will set up a casino at his so-called Mercedes-Benz site on Eleventh Avenue, a source said.
Each bid will cost the applicants $1 million. The state has not said when it will decide on a Big Apple winner.
A casino near Penn Station could change the chemistry of a district that Hochul and Vornado consider a promised land for new, state-of-the-art offices. But Roth scuttled the state’s plan last month when he told investors The time was not right for new, grassroots development,
Roth’s casual comments are said to have stunned the Empire State Development Agency, which is in charge of the project.
As The Post reported, Hochul’s recent State-of-the-State speech made no mention of the ambitious, controversial project, which could cost $306 billion to complete over 20 years.
What’s more surprising is that it didn’t appear in either The Governor’s 267-Page “Achieving the New York Dream” AgendaReleased in conjunction with his speech, which announced 147 “bold initiatives” for the state.