Developer Deals Himself Into 'Racino' Game
It's a high-stakes game with lots at stake for both the developer and the state and, even though the last hand fell flat, several new firms have entered the bidding for the right to open a "Racino" at Aqueduct Racetrack in nearby Ozone Park.
The firm that appears to be holding a high hand at the moment also happens to be the largest minority developer in the nation, run by R. Donahue Peebles.
The Peebles team recently unveiled its plan for Aqueduct on a new website, www.theaqueductcasino.com.
If approved, Peebles would partner with MGM Mirage in building a new casino with 4,500 video lottery terminals, a 350-room hotel, several restaurants and a meeting center, as well as a large conference center that could also host concerts.
A few months ago, a proposal for the Racino development was pulled by the State Senate when the chosen developer could not come up with the promised front money.
Politicians said they would be more careful this time, but some political watchers say that nothing will be done with the new proposals until the turmoil in the State Senate ends and more mundane issues are addressed.
Democratic District Leader Lew Simon thinks that both Rockaway and Ozone Park should benefit from any Racino plan.
"I am meeting with the developers to tell them that they should bring back the White Pot Junction Long Island Railroad line so that people can easily get to Aqueduct," Simon said, concerned with the traffic level on such impacted roads as Woodhaven Boulevard, Cross Bay Boulevard, Sutphin Boulevard and Rockaway Boulevard.
"They are already heavily impacted, especially during rush hours," he said. "Can you imagine what will happen when you add the traffic from a Racino to the mix?"
He also questioned putting a hotel in the mix.
"Who is going to use the hotel," he asked. "Aqueduct will be more like Yonkers than Atlantic City. In Yonkers, people come, they gamble, see a show, eat dinner and go home. They don't stay in a hotel. In Atlantic City, they get comped for a room and they stay overnight. That won't happen at Aqueduct."