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Jay-Z joins Times Square team bidding for prized NYC casino


SL Green and Caesars Entertainment have a glam recent partner of their hoped-for Times Square casino — Brooklyn-born billionaire rapper and entertainment impresario Jay-Z and his Roc Nation, Realty Check has learned.

The three-way partnership, to be announced at SL Green’s annual investor conference on Monday, marks a dramatic twist within the developer’s and Caesars’ quest to launch a casino at SL Green’s 1515 Broadway office tower. (They’re amongst a half-dozen teams which are also expected to submit proposals to the state for a primary full-scale casino within the Big Apple.)

Although details have yet to be spelled out, Jay-Z and his team are expected to oversee entertainment programming at 1515 Broadway and at other SL Green properties on the “Crossroads of the World.” Town’s largest business landlord, SLG has interests in six Times Square properties with a complete of greater than 4 million square feet.

In an announcement, Jay-Z said, “Latest York is the epicenter of culture. Now we have the chance to create a destination at the guts of the true crossroads of the word. My partnership with SL Green and Caesars has all of the promise and commitment to economic opportunity, growth and enrichment for the community and everybody that visits the Empire State.” 

SLG chief executive officer Marc Holliday also shared more specifics about his company’s casino proposal than have ever been disclosed.

Contrary to claims that Caesars Palace Times Square, because it’s to be called, can be a mammoth gaming mecca that may overwhelm the whole lot around it, the casino would occupy only eight floors within the 54-story tower between West 43d and forty fourth streets.

None can be the bottom floor, which is earmarked for non-gaming uses including an entrance to the Minskoff Theater, home of “The Lion King.”

“We’re putting theater at ground level,” Holliday emphasized.

The casino floors would also house restaurants and entertainment uses. Holliday estimated that the “boutique”-size casino might occupy as little as 250,000 square feet of floor space, a postage stamp compared with typical, sprawling gaming floors in Atlantic City or Las Vegas.

A recent, roughly 800-room, five-star hotel can be created within the constructing above them. Holliday said he was “not yet prepared” to handle how the tower’s office tenants, including Paramount Global’s headquarters, can be affected.

He rebutted claims by the Broadway League, which represents theater owners and producers, that a casino would be “dangerous” to Broadway theaters. Quite the opposite, he said, SL Green’s proposal is designed to bolster all the companies around it. Although the League is adamantly against having a casino in its midst, the plan is enthusiastically backed by owners of restaurants resembling Carmine’s, Bond 45 and Junior’s and by Actors Equity and hotel and construction unions.

Jay-ZJay-Z and his team are expected to oversee entertainment programming at 1515 Broadway and at other SL Green properties on the “Crossroads of the World.”Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Based on Holliday, consulting firm AKRF projects that casino visitors will buy 400,000 net recent Broadway tickets annually. Moreover, SLG/Caesars/Roc Nation will purchase 1000’s of tickets directly that shall be provided each to casino patrons and to underserved communities.

The casino company’s loyalty program referred to as Caesars Rewards, which boasts 60 million members worldwide, provides so-called bankable rewards that may be used at hotels, restaurants, theaters and stores beyond 1515 Broadway.

As a part of a “halo effect,” Holliday expects the casino will generate seven million more annual visitors to Times Square, generate seven million restaurant meals outside the casino and $166 million in retail purchases outside the casino constructing.

In SL Green’s view, the 1515 Broadway project is required to help arrest a slow, gradual decline within the district’s fortunes.

The slide, Holliday said, doesn’t yet mark a return to the lawless days of the Nineteen Seventies-early Nineties — although crime is noticeably up —  but quite a slow-but-steady unraveling of the business energy and sense of security that Times Square had only 10 years ago.

Some major corporations resembling Skadden and EY have moved away. Times Square-district office emptiness has soared from 5% in 2012 to almost 25% today, in accordance with CBRE.

Since Toys ‘R’ Us left in 2015, more national retailers — possibly including Perpetually 21 and American Eagle Outfitters — are also trying to exit, citing a decline in the standard of the road environment. Meanwhile, more taco, doughnut and other forms of fast-food joints are moving in.

The state will issue a proper request for proposal (RFP) for casino applicants next month. The choice panel will then move some responses to a state siting committee, which is anticipated to decide on one location within the five boroughs before the top of the 12 months.

Along with SLG/Caesars/Roc Nation, wannabe operators are expected to incorporate Related Corporations and Wynn Resorts at Hudson Yards, Mets owner Steve Cohen and a casino partner near Citi Field in Queens, and Soloviev Constructing Company and a casino partner for a posh called Freedom Plaza on First Avenue within the East 30s.

At the least one company is moving to Times Square: accounting advisory firm Anchin, Block & Anchin signed a lease for 45,673 at Rudin’s Three Times Square, which is undergoing a significant, $25 million upgrade program.

Anchin will move from 1375 Broadway in fall of 2023.

Landlord executive vice-president Michael Rudin said that Anchin was “precisely the form of firm we had in mind” when his company got down to reposition the tower, where Touro College and University System signed for 243,000 square feet earlier this 12 months. About 450,000 square feet remain available.

Anchin was repped by teams from Colliers and Cushman & Wakefield. Rudin was repped in-house.

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