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SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga Casino and Raceway officially broke ground May 27 on its $34 million hotel expansion during a ceremony with local and state officials including Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chair Matt Veitch and Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen. 

"This is a transformational project," said Dan Gerrity, President of Saratoga Casino and Raceway. "This hotel will give guests something they've been long requesting, and will allow us to remain a competitive economic driver in the region for years to come." 

The project is estimated to generate more than $5.4 million in statewide economic output and $1.75 million in state and local tax revenues. The yearlong construction process will create an estimated 400-500 temporary union construction jobs.  Upon opening in 2016, an additional 200-300 good paying career path jobs with benefits will be created. Currently, Saratoga Casino and Raceway employs 400 full time and 200 part time employees in the Capital Region.

The 123,000 square foot expansion will add a 4-star quality hotel to the existing facility. Amenities in the 108-room hotel will include an indoor pool and fitness center, lobby bar, meeting rooms and signature fine dining restaurant. 

Published in News
Friday, 30 May 2014 10:56

Reader's View: On Local Oversight

The successful fight against a full-scale casino siting in Saratoga Springs was the first of two equally important battles we need to win in order to protect our community’s long-term interests and preserve the character of our wonderful city. The second battle is against the proposed Saratoga Casino and Raceway (SCR) expansion that we have a very short window of time to contest. If the expansion plans go through without local oversight, not only would it hurt the city now, SCR could apply for a full casino license in seven years, using the existence of the expanded site to help them in their efforts.

 

The $30 million expansion includes a five-story, 108-room hotel and 2,000-seat event center, nearly doubling the size of the current site. The city should have local oversight authority regarding the expansion, but the City Council has decided not to fight, via legal avenues, the Gaming Commission’s stated intent to become lead agency in the SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) process. The City’s March 4th Resolution protested the lack of “home rule” and the “threat to the vitality of our city’s downtown,” which are also pertinent issues for this second battle. So, why isn’t the City Council fighting for local control by whatever means possible, legal, legislative and civil?

 

The City Center Authority, which oversees the operation of the City Center and reports to the City Council, submitted a resolution to the City Council against SCR expansion, because the plans would have a profoundly negative impact on our downtown business corridor. Although the City Center runs a very strong convention business, they also provide public events that draw thousands of people into the city who and eat and shop at our local establishments. 

 

In the first quarter of the year, which is very slow for downtown businesses, these public events draw over 34,000 people who spend more than $3,000,000. 

 

SCR is looking to create public events for their event center that will be in direct competition with the City Center’s public events. Skip Carlson of SCR’s stated intention is to have the public “come to our property and stay longer”, at SCR; downtown businesses will be “devastated” as a result. If there is significantly less traffic, businesses will be at risk of closing, consequently hurting the City Center’s ability to attract conventions to our unique downtown, starting a downward economic spiral.  

 

The Planning Board normally oversees the SEQRA Review process locally; however, the State Gaming Commission has claimed power with regards to SCR. Recently, the Gaming Commission said the Prop 1 State Law (about full-scale casinos) only covers the gaming floor, but the rest of the development has to go through local Planning and Zoning boards for review. Since both laws (Prop 1 and the VLT law) have the same exact language, and SCR’s expansion plan does not include the gaming floor, why is the Gaming Commission now saying SCR’s building plans are not subject to local oversight? 

 

We need the City Council and Planning Boards to vigorously fight for local oversight and challenge the Gaming Commission’s position, so we can control our city’s destiny.

 

There are many issues to review and gather public input about the impact of this expansion on our city, including waste production, large truck traffic traveling down Union and Nelson Avenues past residences, noise and light pollution, the character of our community (quality of life and heritage and cultural tourism issues), the tall hotel possibly being seen from the flat track, and the potential impact on SPAC, UPH and our vibrant downtown business core that our community has carefully developed over the decades. The planned site is also within our city’s protected Greenbelt and contrary to our Comprehensive Plan.

 

I strongly encourage all Saratoga Springs residents and visitors to contact the City Council and Planning Department and demand they fight for local control by whatever means necessary. The Mayor and City Council have until June 13 to say ‘no’ to the Gaming Commission’s SEQRA lead agency status. The Office of General Services (OGS) oversees the Gaming Commission. Contact information for OGS: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Denise McDonald

Saratoga Springs

Published in News
Friday, 25 April 2014 08:13

SCR’s Big Week

- $300 Million E. Greenbush Casino Bid 

- Planned $30 Million Local Expansion Submitted To State  

 

 

"When one door closes another door opens…”

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Never has the above expression been truer for Saratoga Casino and Raceway (SCR) than this week. 

 

In a dramatic announcement on Tuesday, April 22 that could prove to have extensive regional economic implications, SCR revealed plans for a $300 million world-class destination resort casino in the Thompson Hill area in the Town of East Greenbush. The Rensselaer County site has strategic proximity to Albany, the entire Capital Region and, via access to nearby interstate highways, the entire Northeast. 

 

At the same time, plans are proceeding with a local $30 million expansion on the SCR grounds. This plan had been originally announced on May 28, 2013 and had been billed as part of SCR’s necessary strategic development plans, regardless of the results of the outcome of an expanded gaming scenario on its grounds. These plans are proceeding at it’s own pace through the appropriate government agencies. 

 

Further, there are strong indications that SCR will file another application for a casino site in the Catskill Region, specifically around Newburgh and Route 17K. These plans were scheduled to be presented after press time to the Newburgh Town Board at a special meeting 7 p.m. Thursday at the Town of Newburgh courthouse. Readers are advised to look for an update at saratogatodayonline.com

 

But meanwhile, there is plenty that is known on the two pending projects that have been announced:

 

$30 Million Expansion in Saratoga Springs

 

A comprehensive site plan, complete with environmental impact statements and supporting documents has been filed with the New York State Gaming Commission. Locals who are interested in reviewing these documents can find a copy in the Planning office in Saratoga Springs City Hall. 

 

The notable highlights of this expansion plan includes: 

- A 120-room hotel with guest spa, indoor pool and lobby bar 

- A 24,000 square foot multi-purpose event center 

- A signature fine dining restaurant.

 

According to the summary provided by SCR officials “The expansion plans include the creation of 260 additional jobs at the facility, and an additional $9 million in annual payroll expenses, bringing the total number of employees to 900 and yearly payroll expenses to $27 million.”

 

“From the beginning, we have worked closely with our local leaders to drive increased tourism to our community and are excited to be able to use these plans to bring more focus to Saratoga as an international resort destination,” said Rita Cox, Senior Vice President of Marketing. “With these plans, we will be expanding our marketing efforts to attract visitors from areas outside the Capital District and throughout the entire Northeastern Region.”

 

Ultimately, approval of this project, or portions of it, rests with the state. The City of Saratoga Springs has been designated as an “involved agency,” in that they will need to provide extra water and sewer hookups and other services. So they can be described as having a “seat at the table,” if not ultimate decision-making authority. SCR had previously stated its intentions to have its plans reviewed by city land-use boards although they are not required to do so.

 

Next Steps: At some future point (expected to be soon) the Gaming Commission will start the clock on a 30-day “review period” in which the City Council, and through them, presumably other concerned parties may be heard. Mayor Joanne Yepsen has stated that she might call a special council meeting on this subject alone should the timing warrant it. 

 

There have been concerns expressed by downtown Saratoga Springs entities and other interests, including the Saratoga Springs City Center and Saratoga Performing Arts Center about the scope of the project in general and the multi-purpose event center particularly. 

 

According to SCR officials, given timely approvals the construction timeline anticipates work beginning in spring 2014 and the opening of the expansion project in spring 2015.

 

$300 Million Facility in East Greenbush

 

The bullet-point highlights of this project:

- 100,000 square foot overall destination resort casino development

- 300-room hotel

- 20,000 square feet of high-end retail

- Multiple entertainment venues including a nightclub, sports bar and showroom

- An estimated 1,700 construction jobs and an estimated 1,700 permanent jobs at the facility.

 

This does not even begin to include the spillover effects, ancillary businesses, hotels and enterprises throughout the adjacent area. If you need a visual, search out a picture of Kissimmee, Florida before and after Disney World arrived and you’ll get a general idea.

 

Next Steps: Many. The application-filing deadline is here. The review process begins, with an expectation that siting decisions will occur this fall.  

 

SCR bills their E. Greenbush casino proposal as a “game changer,” and if it comes to pass, there can be no doubt that it would be, on several levels. Of course, it is one of a few possible proposals in the Capital/Saratoga Region for a casino and only one will eventually be sited – at this time. This is also true in the Catskills area, which may be a more crowded application field.

 

"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us."

- Alexander Graham Bell

 

On second thought, never has this expression been less true for Saratoga Gaming and Raceway than on this week. 

Published in News

Addition Includes 120-Room Hotel, 24,000-Square-Foot Event Center

SARATOGA SPRINGS — In an effort to attract more tourists to the city and create an “international resort destination,” Saratoga Casino and Raceway announced a $30 million investment to expand its facilities by adding a 120-room hotel and 24,000-square-foot multi-use event center, among other amenities.

Published in News
Thursday, 25 April 2013 12:47

Congress Plaza Hotel Gets Go-Ahead

City Planning Board Hears Plans for Senior Housing

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Springs Planning Board members approved the site plans for Congress Plaza Redevelopment which will see a 145-room hotel built where the former Broadway Joes was located. 

Published in News

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