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Friday, January 22, 2021

Times Square developer eyes casino to anchor Broadway project

CRAINE'S NEW YORK BUSINESS - Bloomberg

The company behind a $2.5 billion project in Times Square is pitching a casino to anchor the development.

L&L Holding is exploring building a casino at 1568 Broadway, where the company is working on a mixed-use project that includes retail space, a stage for live events and a hotel, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The pitch is geared toward casino operators who might be interested in partnering on the project, the person said, asking not to be named because the matter is private.

With the pandemic hitting state and local budgets, there is momentum to expand gambling in New York in a bid to boost tax revenue. Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports following in the footsteps of New Jersey and other states to allow online sports wagering.

Developers are looking to go further, eyeing Manhattan as a lucrative market for gaming as social distancing continues to batter commercial real estate. Still, the idea of a casino in the heart of New York City likely would face long odds amid stiff political opposition.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Vornado Realty Trust has floated the idea of a casino on its land holdings near Herald Square.

L&L hasn’t formally proposed the project to state officials. The state may issue three new casino licenses beginning in 2023, but there is pressure to speed up that timetable.

L&L declined to comment. Vornado didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Times Square development, TSX Broadway, is slated to reach 46 stories, including, 669 hotel rooms and an elevated stage for entertainment. Fortress Investment Group is the leading partner on the project, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.

The project recently got an infusion of more $100 million in EB-5 loans, which come from foreign investors who back real estate developments in exchange for U.S. visas.

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