Saks Fifth Avenue Proposes Casino Atop Its Manhattan Store

Retailer joins crowded list of entities looking to nab one of New York's three downstate licenses
Casino Floor

The Hudson’s Bay Company, owner of the Saks Fifth Avenue department store chain, has joined the competition to build a casino in New York City, proposing this week that it convert the top three floors of its Midtown Manhattan store to a high-end casino.

The notion of building a boutique casino on the floors above Saks has long been in the rumor mill in New York. In March, The New York Times reported that state Sen. Liz Krueger, long an adversary of a casino in Manhattan, was open to the Saks idea because such a project would have a relatively small construction footprint and would be more compact, catering to high rollers.

The list of major players vying to build a casino in downstate New York has grown since the state’s gaming commission issued its request for applications (RFA) for three available license on Jan. 4. The New York Gaming Facility Location Board will have far-ranging powers to pick sites and has a Feb. 3 deadline to gather the first set of answers from the RFA.

Several vying for what could be one license

Among the competing casino proposals are a plan by Mets owner Steve Cohen to build near his Willets Point ballpark in Queens; a plan by Related Companies and Wynn Resorts to build behind Hudson Yards; a partnership between Thor Equities and other companies to erect a casino in Coney Island in Brooklyn; an SL Green partnership with Caesars  Entertainment and others to convert a Times Square high-rise into a casino and entertainment complex; and various bids in Long Island, Staten Island and elsewhere.

Existing gaming locations in Yonkers and at Aqueduct Race Track in Queens are considered frontrunners to gain licenses because of their head starts in building community support and with facilities already built, meaning there could be only one available license at large.

The Saks project would start on the ninth floor of the luxury department store across the street from Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. It would cover about 200,000 square feet, including a new lobby with a separate red-carpet-lined entrance for the casino.

State and city planners looking to maximize the casino’s tax benefits have long been intrigued by the notion of building in Manhattan, but opposition in the borough has also been particularly stiff, with community groups and area politicians announcing plans to fight any proposal. Those to come out against a Manhattan casino include Community Board 5, which represents the area around Saks, and the Broadway League, a coalition of theater owners who oppose the SL Green Times Square proposal.

Photo: Shutterstock


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