Sunday, February 1, 2009

Start Date Not Yet Set for Aqueduct VLT Constuction by Stephen Geffon - Queens Chronicle

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Much to the surprise of Community Board 10 members, Delaware North Companies announced at last week’s meeting in South Ozone Park they have not yet set a date to begin construction of the long-awaited video lottery terminals at Aqueduct Racetrack.

A Delaware North representative said once documents are signed with the state and architectural work is completed, construction of the facility would take 14 months.

The proposed 328,000-square-foot gaming and entertainment center, the cost of which is around $250 million, will have 4,500 slot machines. It will create more than 1,100 construction-related jobs and an additional 1,000 at the Aqueduct facility and is expected to generate around $1 million in revenue daily.

In a press release, Delaware North said its 30-year agreement with the state is expected to generate $10.3 billion for education. In addition to the slot machines, the group said it plans to develop other amenities at the track.

Among them are a 350- to 500-room luxury hotel, 3,000- to 5,000-square-foot destination spa, 60,000-square-foot state-of-the-art conference center, 3,000-seat event center and 15,000 to 30,000 square feet of retail space.

Ronald Sultemeier, Delaware North’s vice president for strategic development, said the updated plan calls for the gaming floor to now be on the first floor, which would bring people directly into the so-called “racino.” The original plan had the casino on the second floor. A parking garage has been added to the plans.

The first floor will also have a world-class international food buffet and the facility will contain a steakhouse, Asian and Italian restaurants, a large food court, several bars and lounges, and a stage for entertainment.

Another building development discussed at the meeting was that of the Bernard Fineson Center in Howard Beach. Board Chairwoman Betty Braton relayed to C.B. 10 members information she learned from Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (both D-Ozone Park) about the state’s plans for the property.

The center is expected to close in June and, so far, the state has expressed an interest in developing the property for senior citizen housing and expects to issue a request for proposals this month or next for no fewer than 100 units of senior housing.

Some 80 percent of the units would be studio or one-bedroom apartments, not assisted living. The rest of the units would be reserved for assisted living for elderly individuals covered by the State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

The building is not expected to be torn down and there will be major renovations made to its interior, Braton reported.