Aqueduct still on track to be a destination


| tcullen@queenscourier.com |



Less than three months after Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged talks had broken down with a developer for what would have been the nation’s largest convention center, the question remains: what will become of the land adjacent to Aqueduct Racetrack and Resorts World Casino New York City.

State and Resorts World officials say they are working to get the area developed and have promised the community that something will come in the area, bringing with it a number of jobs and economic activity. In order to do this, the Legislature and voters must approve gaming laws that would allow table games in select locations throughout the state.

Economic development, a use for the land at Aqueduct and better transportation are the three things Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder said he has been pushing for to spark further growth in south Queens.

Better transportation, he said, meant upgraded service on the “A” train and consideration for a Rockaway LIRR line — something that Goldfeder has pushed for since being elected. Goldfeder recently sent a request to MTA Chair Joseph Lhotta asking for improvements to the “A” train stops at Aqueduct. Since Resorts World opened last October, Aqueduct “A” train service has increased by 100 percent, Goldfeder said. Resorts World, approaching its first birthday in Ozone Park, has promoted its accomplishments in the short amount of time, breaking several state gambling records, both for revenue and attendance. In July, the Racino saw more than a million visitors come through its doors, despite a robbery in late June.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who has long supported development in the area and jobs with it, said there will be something developed in the area, should it be an entertainment venue, hotel or other amenity. Community need as well should also be taken into consideration when planning what will go into the area, he said. This included not only mass transit, but traffic on local streets and neighborhood effects.

“We also have to keep in mind that it’s very closely adjacent to residential homes,” Addabbo said. “So whatever they build there, we must take into account the quality of life of those who live right adjacent to the casino.”

The three-term senator went on to say that Resorts World has listened to the community in the past, and expects they will continue to moving forward.

“I’m optimistic that as in the past Resorts World will be very cognizant of the fact that residents are impacted daily on what goes on there,” he said.

The Racino’s parent company, Genting, is waiting to see if voters approve gaming laws in November 2013 before laying concrete plans for the area, spokesperson Stefan Friedman said.

“I think the idea of seeing where things come down on the [state] constitutional amendment on gaming will help determine a great deal of what we’re going to do in the future for the entire site,” Friedman said.

Resorts World officials still see the area potentially becoming a destination location, he said, in regards to hotels or restaurants in the area.