Newburgh Mall Could Soon Become Home To VLT Room If City Leaders Ascent To Zoning Change

Posted By Derek Helling on May 7, 2021

The ball is now rolling toward necessary municipal approvals for a future Resorts World Hudson Valley. If everything goes well, Newburgh residents and visitors could be playing the video lottery terminals in the renovated space before the end of 2021.

The site’s developers presented new plans to the city’s planning board for the first time on Thursday. A crucial vote is pending later this month that could add millions of dollars to the city’s coffers annually and expand Resorts World’s presence among New York casinos.

Details on the Resorts World Hudson Valley plans

Thursday night’s presentation by JCM Engineering consisted of a broad overview presentation to the planning board. Board members posed a few clarifying questions but took no other action. That’s common for initial appearances of projects of this kind.

The main issue that the casino plans are contingent upon is actually before the Town Board. In order to move forward, the city needs to amend its current zoning policies. The status quo would not allow for gaming at the intended site.

The desired location was a big part of the presentation to the planning board. While Resorts World originally considered a site in Harriman, the development is now targeted for the Newburgh Mall. The former Bon-Ton store will comprise most of the 90,000 square feet.

Within that square footage, the same company that operates Resorts World Catskills wants to run as many as 1,300 video lottery terminals. The plans also call for a bar and lounge. Resorts World has been searching for such a site since the state gave clearance for the company to relocate its VLTs from the Monticello Raceway.

The plans call for a construction cost of $32 million and project the renovations could be complete within six months. While the Town Board is not expected to vote on the zoning amendment proposal at its next meeting, Town Supervisor Gil Piaquadio said the body could vote on that issue at its subsequent gathering, scheduled for May 24.

One item that might delay the vote is council members’ desire to conduct their own traffic study. The proposal includes a traffic study commissioned by Resorts World, along with reports on criminal activity and property values in the area.

It’s uncertain which way the four members of the council are leaning right now but the selling points for the zoning change are clear. Resorts World says it will bring new jobs to the city, more funding, and revitalize the mall.

The sales pitch by casino developers

Resorts World hasn’t held back on painting a rosy picture for the future of the city with the casino running at full speed. Among the benefits the company says the VLT room will bring are:

  • 200 to 225 full-time jobs, averaging $74,000 in annual salary with benefits
  • 200 temporary jobs tied to the casino’s renovation
  • Incentives for businesses to fill the mall’s 17 empty storefronts
  • $3 million in annual host fees split by the Town of Newburgh and Orange Co., NY
  • Give the town access to an estimated $780,000 in annual funds from the state as a VLT room host
  • Support the Sullivan Co. Resort

Public comment thus far has been minimal, even by those who live near the mall. Also working in the proposal’s favor is a lack of proposed changes to the exterior facade of the mall. Other than a re-design to the exterior entrance of the casino, Resorts World wants to add an enclosed parking space for an armored car and a generator.

Over the next few weeks, Resorts World staff will use these points to try to sway board members their way. If successful, gamblers in Newburgh might have a new reason to visit the mall in their town before the year is out.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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