By Naeisha Rose
In 90-degree temperatures, more than 100 people sat under a tent outside the Resorts World Casino last week for a groundbreaking that ushered in a major new chapter for the complex.
The city’s only casino, which opened its doors in South Ozone Park six years ago, announced the $400 million expansion will include a 400-room hotel, and additional space for gaming, dining, entertainment and retail. It’s scheduled to be completed by mid-2019.
The nearly 480,000-square-foot development is projected to generate $200 million in economic activity, produce about 3,000 union construction jobs, and create over 1,000 more jobs within the facilities, according to Resort World President Scott Molina.
The new four-star hotel will include five-star suites. One of the four new dining outlets will be comprised of a signature restaurant with an innovative dining concept from a celebrity chef, according to Molina.
“The project will allow us to soar to new heights and stay true to our core mission: be an economic engine to the local community and New York state,” Molina said.
Resorts World, located at 110 Rockaway Blvd., employs more than 1,100 people, 60 percent of whom are from Queens. It is located near JFK Airport and has 10 million customers per year, Molina said.
Resorts World has donated $1.9 billion to New York State’s Lottery Education Fund since 2011.
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), who lives half a mile from the casino, was pleased about what Resorts has already accomplished and is looking forward to the expansion.
“It paved the way for over 1,000 jobs, nearly $2 billion in education and $360 million in revenue last year alone,” Addabbo said. “Resorts World has been a great community partner to our city and our state.”
“I am enthused once again,” Addabbo said. “There’s going to be more job creation and economic growth.”
City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), an Ozone Park native, took out his Resorts World black card to show his excitement about the development.
“Today is a wonderful day for this community and the entire borough of Queens,” Ulrich said. “Resorts World has been an economic boom and has an absolutely positive impact on the community. They have been generous to the non-profits that serve our senior citizens, veterans, and our children. They have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to the local community.”
Michelle Stoddart, the director of community development for Resorts World, is from Kew Gardens and oversees the charitable contributions that go to the 80 local non-profits like the YMCA and Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.
“It is very important for us to have a face in the community and to be recptive to helping those around us and meeting their needs,” Stoddart said.
The casino is also responsible for replacing the playground at Hamilton Beach Park, which was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose