The Locally Owned Voice of the Capital Region

$300M Albany casino plan includes hotel, water park

Friday, March 21, 2014
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A rendering of the inside of the proposed casino at the Noonan Lake property in Albany, produced by DeWolff Partnership Architects and Flaum Management Compay.
A rendering of the inside of the proposed casino at the Noonan Lake property in Albany, produced by DeWolff Partnership Architects and Flaum Management Compay.

— The Capital District OTB and a Rochester developer are looking to establish a $300 million casino and resort off Exit 23 of the state Thruway in Albany.

David Flaum, chairman and CEO of Rochester-based Flaum Management, and John Signor, president of the Capital District OTB, pitched the plan to Albany’s Common Council in a meeting Friday afternoon.

“Our plan not only represents the most transformative development Albany has seen in more than 40 years, it’s something all residents of Albany and the Capital Region can be proud of,” Flaum said. “We know local support is critical to a successful bid, and we are going to earn that support.”

The proposal includes a 63,000-square-foot casino, 275-room resort-style hotel and a 40,000-square-foot indoor water park. Flaum and Signor touted the location on Noonan Lane as having easy access to the Thruway and out-of-the-way from other local venues.

The casino site would also have a parking garage with more than 750 spots and 975 surface spots. Flaum said the project is expected to create 1,800 permanent jobs, with an average salary of $40,000, and 1,500 construction jobs.

“Helping make the city of Albany and the Capital Region a destination with a vibrant economy with good paying jobs has been a goal of mine since becoming president of Capital OTB,” Signor said. “I look forward to continuing that work with this one-of-a-kind plan.”

The plan does not include a concert facility or entertainment venue so it would not compete with the Times Union Center or Palace Theater downtown, Flaum said. He said the project would complement the Albany convention center, which is expected to be finished in two years.

As part of the development project, Flaum plans to establish a $2 million Albany community benefits fund. Grants would be provided for homeowners, schools and local businesses.

“We are committed to working with all interested parties to make this a project the entire community will embrace,” Flaum said. “We will contract with local businesses and vendors, and we will work with religious and civic leaders, and law enforcement to maintain safe streets.”

The proposed 60-acre site, called “Project E23,” includes five houses, three that are currently occupied by the Noonan family who are relatives of U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY. The developer would take over the property, and a contract is “essentially done.”

Flaum previously targeted the former Tobin First Prize plant off Central Avenue in Albany for a casino, but the site did not receive support from local residents or officials.

Other proposed sites in the Capital Region for a full-scale casino include Saratoga Casino and Raceway, Galesi Group’s ALCO site in Schenectady, 520 acres of farmland in Montgomery County and DeLaet’s Landing in Rensselaer.

The state will allow four full-scale casinos in the Capital Region, Catskills and Southern Tier by next year. Casino licenses will be awarded competitively, with sites considered based on location, economic growth and local support.

The state is expected to put out a proposal to receive bids for casino sites by April 1. If awarded a casino license, Flaum plans to finish construction by mid-2015.

 
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