Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How Will the Racino Affect Home Values? by Simon Fong - Queens Chronicle

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Residents of Ozone Park may be uncertain about how the construction of a new gambling facility at Aqueduct Race Track will affect the value of their properties.

The creation of an estimated 800 permanent new jobs and the generation of hundreds of millions of dollars a year in new state revenue have been the main draws for supporters of the racino project.

Many residents are also concerned, however, about a new influx of gamblers coming to the facility, known as Resorts World New York. Crime, traffic congestion and the limited number of parking spaces in the area are among their concerns.

But what will the impact on property values be? Realtors’ opinions are mixed, while the area’s state officials say it will have a positive impact.

“The Aqueduct Race Track is going to bring in a steady flow of capital into the community,” state Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Ozone Park) said. “The new racetrack will also add cosmetic appeal to the neighborhood.”

Addabbo said the gamblers are going to be visitors, so they are not going to affect safety in the neighborhood. Security in the neighborhood will be extremely high, and the senator has worked together with the police to create a safe environment for residents.

Thomas LaVecchia of Howard Beach Realty doesn’t feel that there will be a significant impact on property values from the new Aqueduct Racetrack.

“I honestly don’t see how it can really affect the value of homes in that area.” LaVecchia said.

Jerry Fink of Jerry Fink Real Estate in Howard Beach said he is uncertain what the racino will ultimately bring to the neighborhood. He believes the facility will not have a negative impact on the neighborhood, and that it might slightly increase the values of homes in that area.

Fink said the amount of foreclosures coming to market will have more impact on the values of homes in that area than the racetrack.

“There have always been people gambling on horses at the racetrack,” Fink said. “The only difference might be that there are going to be slightly more people coming to gamble or shop, but it will not be a detraction to the neighborhood.”

On the other hand, Steven Pacchiano of Connexion Real Estate in Howard Beach, harbors strong feelings that property values in Ozone Park will take a serious nosedive.

“There are going to be a lot of gamblers coming into that neighborhood,” Pacchiano said. “If you look back historically at areas that have large gambling establishments, like Atlantic City, you will see that the casinos are beautiful but the houses there are not desirable to homeowners.”

Pacchiano observed that there are many homes up for sale in the Ozone Park area. He noted that prices are dropping rapidly because so many houses are still on the market.

“There is just very little demand for houses in Ozone Park. People are looking into buying homes in Maspeth, Howard Beach and Woodhaven,” Pacchiano said. “I have seen houses going for sale for $250,000.”

Addabbo disagrees with the negative assessment, and is very optimistic about home values going up in the future.

“Lets hypothesize that Aqueduct Racetrack was gone,” Addabbo said. “That space could have been used as a factory, which would have created greenhouse emissions. That would have definitely lowered property values.”

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Ozone Park) believes the racino will enhance the community. Pheffer said that the project has created many new jobs, and people who work at the site will want to move closer to their jobs.

“It is a vibrant area,” Pheffer said, “I believe that it will add to the value of homes.”

Stefan Friedman, spokesman for Resorts World New York, said the new gambling facility will add value to the area.

“We’re fully confident that Resorts World New York will serve as a source of pride for the residents of Ozone Park and have no doubt that the development will be a real positive for the neighborhood,” Friedman said, “whether it be in the form of job creation, economic activity or increased property values.”

Residents of Ozone Park will begin to see the true effect the new Aqueduct will have on their property values next sping, when the first video lottery terminals are expected to be in operation. The redevelopment is projected to be complete in 18 months.

“Its still too early to predict the effect Aqueduct will have on Ozone Park,” Fink said. “We’ll have to wait and see if it brings chaos or enhancements to the neighborhood.”