Manhattan Community Board 4: Wynn New York City Project ‘Should Not Be Happening, Period’

Written By Grant Lucas on April 11, 2024
Rendering of Wynn New York City for a story on Related Companies' proposal facing pushback from Manhattan Community Board 4

Related Companies firmly believes in its Wynn New York City proposal.

The development group calls the project “a catalyst” for Hudson Yards, “the single largest investment ever to be made in the local communities of Chelsea, Hudson Yards, Hell’s Kitchen and the entire West Side.” All of it, from the casino to a recreational area to residential and office spaces, is designed “to enhance the neighborhood and maximize benefit to residents and the surrounding community.”

Yet the biggest key to becoming a serious contender for one of the three downstate NY casino licenses is community support. And it doesn’t seem to have captured that just yet.

In fact, Manhattan Community Board 4 said it was “mystified” at the Related bid, specifically the modification to include office space and a casino as opposed to developing a primarily residential district.

According to a letter from its members, the board “cannot support the proposed project’s drastic shift from residential to commercial use designed around casino use.”

Community board not happy proposal goes against 2009 agreement

Flash back to 2009 when the MCB4 agreed to a plan with Related and the City of New York that called for six buildings featuring nearly 5,800 housing units on the Western Railyards. By contrast, in its Wynn New York City proposal, Related includes just 1,507 units, including 324 classified as subsidized-affordable.

On top of that, the bid includes commercial buildings and 2.5 million square feet for a hotel and casino.

Those changes do not sit will with the community board.

“Why should communities around the City of New York,” the letter from MCB4 reads, “work with the real estate industry and the City government to respond and agree to zoning changes with detailed site plans and Points of Agreement when such plans and agreements can be discarded at later date?”

At a community board meeting recently, member Joe Restuccia doubled down:

“Why would any developer ever want to make an agreement with the City of New York if they’re going to throw it out?”

Related pledges Wynn NYC will stick to 2009 zoning approval

Related noted in its Draft Scope of Work that the 2009 zoning approval “was geared primarily toward condominium development” and that it didn’t allow for flexibility to include other uses such as office space, a community facility and other amenities.

Related assured that its pursuit of a downstate casino license, which would also allow for a hotel, would be a separate process.

When addressing the MCB4’s Hell’s Kitchen Land Use committee last month, Andrew Rosen, chief operating officer for Related, indicated that the revised Wynn plan would still abide by the agreement established 15 years ago. He noted that Related “took those as a baseline for our proposal here.”

However, Paul Devlin, speaking at MCB4’s Full Board meeting recently, emphasized that the Wynn New York City project “should not be happening, period.”

Related intends to include a school in its development, as the original agreement allowed. But as MCB4 member Josephine Ishmon point out at the Full Board meeting, fewer residential units “great will impact” whether a school will be included. It also led to her wondering: “What I don’t want is that the School Construction Authority says ‘oh no you’re not getting a school, we can’t fill the seats’ … and then what happens to the space?”

In the letter from MCB4, the board stressed its commitment to “protect and meet the goals” of the community. This came right on the heels of this comment:

“MCB4 remains mystified how the Department and Commission of City Planning could review and consider such a plan, which erases years of sound city planning and community efforts to replace it with such an anti-urban and anti-New York vision.”

Wynn will need to garner support from MCB4

If Wynn and Related have any hope of earning one of the three available downstate licenses, which could offer an avenue to offer online casinos in New York once lawmakers legalize them, the group will need that local community support.

The Wynn New York City proposal certainly features plenty of amenities. But one aspect that Manhattan Community Board 4 believes wasn’t taken into account was increased traffic that a casino and hotel would create. Not to mention the impact an expansive development would have on small businesses in the area.

The MCB4 certainly carries some weight in Wynn New York City’s future. Related’s proposal must receive approval from the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure then have it reviewed by MCB4, the City Council and the Manhattan Borough president before state regulators give their final say.

Fortunately for Related and Wynn, a long road awaits, as the New York State Gaming Commission said recently that it may not award those licenses until late 2025.

Photo by Related Companies and Wynn Resorts
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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is the managing editor for PlayNY. A longtime, award-winning sports writer, Grant has covered gambling and legal sports betting since 2018, when he got his start reporting on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania industries. He now oversees PlayNY as New York expands legalized gambling to sports betting and online casino gaming.

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