Officials: No plans for Willets Point casino

Holdout with Citi Field in shot
File photo

A proposed casino for Willets Point, rejected by the city months ago, will not be an option moving forward, officials said.

The casino, along with a hotel and entertainment center, would have gone over what is currently a parking lot, according to plans provided by NYC Park Advocates.

Instead, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced last June that the area would become a 1.4 million-square-foot shopping and entertainment center called Willets West.

But Related and Sterling Equities, the two entities developing Willets Point, offered to buy the 61.4 acres needed in the original project for $100 million when a casino was attached. Involved in the proposal were also Triple M, Gateway Casino Resorts, LLC and The Shinnecock Indian Nation. These three companies are not involved in the current development.

To have a Native American casino in an unzoned area would require federal approval, according to the proposal.
“There is no casino being built at Willets Point, period,” said Nicholas Kelly, spokesperson for NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC). “A proposal in 2011 that included a gaming use was rejected.”

But NYC Park Advocates president Geoffrey Croft is troubled that the idea was entertained without public disclosure. Croft, who opposes any commercial development in or around the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, was curious why the city had not come out and said it had rejected the plan, as opposed to keeping it under lock and key. Instead, he requested the information under the Freedom of Information Act.