• Officials in other cities warn of pitfalls, failed promises. Click HERE.
• Neighbors rally against casino plan. Click HERE
SCHENECTADY Where rusted old factory buildings once stood, developers are painting a picture of a gleaming casino with a glass entrance, skylights and patios overlooking the Mohawk River.
As the clock ticks toward the June 30 deadline for casino license applications to be filed with the state, developer David Buicko is putting together renderings to showcase what his company wants to build in Schenectady.
He plans to submit those pictures along with the application, showing how the abandoned and long-vacant American Locomotive Co. on Erie Boulevard would be transformed.
The only restaurant would be a steakhouse, though there would also be a marketplace with burgers, pizza and other fast food.
“And guess what? There’s no steakhouse in Schenectady,” said Buicko, adding that the marketplace would fuel gamblers late into the night and neither would compete with existing city restaurants.
There would not be an entertainment venue or a sit-down theater, said
Greg Carlin, CEO of Rush Street Gaming, which would run the $300 million casino if it wins one of the four licenses available for three regions in the state. Instead, Carlin said, the company would buy tickets from Proctors to give to the casino’s best customers. Carlin said that was far cheaper than running entertainment at the casino.
“Shows are generally not a money-maker” for a casino, he said. “If I don’t have to build a theater, handle the bookings, the shows, everything, if you already have the infrastructure … we’d rather collaborate with Proctors.”
The casino will have live music at times, possibly on a small stage near a bar, he added. But nothing like Proctors.
“We’re not competing. We’re in a different business,” he said.
The casino might also run a trolley or shuttle, picking up customers at hotels and also making stops at Proctors and other locations downtown.
“We’ve talked about that. If there’s demand for that, we’d like to do something like that,” he said.
Rush Street Gaming runs trolleys and shuttles at its Pittsburgh and Philadelphia casinos, he added.
The casino plans call for a banquet facility, but it would be much smaller than city officials had originally projected. They had suggested that a casino could be the answer for large conventions and groups that have outgrown Proctors.
Carlin said the proposed casino’s banquet facility would hold up to 250 people. He envisioned it being used for weddings, meetings and small conventions.
As for the design of the building, Carlin said he’s told his architect to consider the city’s industrial past.
“There’s going to be some representations of Schenectady’s industrial past,” he said. “It’s not going to be kitschy industrial.”
He sent the architect details about the Alco, which stood where the casino would be built. He also added details about General Electric, founded in Schenectady.
Beyond the rendering, design work would wait until the state decides which proposals to license. There are five operators vying for a license in the Capital Region; many others are fighting for licenses in two other regions of the state. The gaming facility location board will hand out a total of four licenses, only one of which is expected to go to the Capital Region.
Applications are due June 30 and decisions will likely be announced this fall. By that date, the Schenectady City Council must have passed a resolution of support, which the council intends to vote on Monday.
The state environmental review for the Alco site has been completed, although it was done before a casino was specifically proposed. The impact statement is now being revised by the Metroplex Development Authority to include traffic studies on how an average of 7,600 people will get in and out of the casino daily. That study does not have to be complete by June 30, said Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen.
The developer, Galesi Group, expects to make improvements on-site for traffic. A roundabout is also planned for the intersection of Erie Boulevard and Nott Street, as well as other improvements.
Competing with the Schenectady proposal are four others, in Amsterdam, Cobleskill, East Greenbush and Rensselaer. A sixth proposal near Albany was dropped last week.
Each of the proposed casinos is being handled by a different operator.
In Amsterdam, the casino would be located on the Amsterdam-Florida border near Thruway Exit 27.
In Cobleskill, Howe Caverns owners are working with an operator to build a casino that would complement the other planned expansions at the cavern site.
Another casino is being proposed as part of a waterfront development project called de Laet’s Landing in Rensselaer.
In East Greenbush, the proposal includes multiple entertainment venues, hotels, restaurants and retailers, creating a resort-like casino.
It would be built on about 130 acres of vacant land along Thompson Hill, a road adjacent to Route 4 and with access from either Exit 8 or Exit 9 on Interstate 90.