Public to get look at $30M racino expansion
SARATOGA SPRINGS Plans to nearly double the size of the Saratoga Casino and Raceway will be presented to the public during the City Council meeting tonight.
Brian Davis, the racino’s director of design and development, and Clough, Harbour & Associates are expected to give a 15-minute presentation about the two-phase, $30 million expansion plan that would add 134,000 square feet to the 183,000-square-foot racino. Plans call for a 108-room hotel, 137-seat restaurant, 2,000-seat event center and 180-seat meeting room.
“This is simply to review the project as submitted,” said Rita Cox, a spokeswoman for the racino.
She said the project will ideally break ground soon and wrap up before summer 2015. Construction will eventually remove a training track now used by harness racers, who will subsequently be allowed to use the main track for training.
“We’d like to get a shovel in the ground as soon as possible,” Cox said.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.; the racino presentation is scheduled to follow the public comment period, according to the agenda released Monday. It’s unclear whether the public will get a chance to weigh in on the expansion plans.
City officials have no oversight over the project since the racino is considered a state lottery facility. The operators initially listed Saratoga Springs as an involved agency in documentation filed to the state Office of General Services, but switched the city to an interested agency in paperwork filed last month.
The racino operators, however, have assured city leaders they’ll seek their input for the project, which will eventually go before the state Gaming Commission for approval. Cox couldn’t say if other public meetings are scheduled to review the project.
The expansion has generated some controversy, since some fear it will suck business away from the city’s downtown. Some are concerned the event center will compete with the Saratoga Springs City Center and other local venues such as the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
The project hasn’t yet been formally turned over to the Gaming Commission. Once that occurs, there will be a limited time for the city to lodge any concerns about the project.
“This process has not officially begun,” Mayor Joanne Yepsen said during the council’s agenda meeting. “However, it’s not too early to start getting public comment on this project.”