Wynn’s Massive Hudson Yards West Project Meets Objections From Civic Leaders

Wynn Resorts Hudson Yards
Published by NYSB Staff
Last Updated: 03. May 2024.

Wynn Resorts, the company behind WynnBet in New York, is planning to build a state of the art casino and one of the largest hotels in the city as part of the redevelopment of the Hudson Yards West site, a former rail yard in West Manhattan. 

New glossy renderings of Wynn Resorts’ plan to dramatically transform Manhattan's west side were unveiled in March, but the development is not without controversy.

The $12 billion plans from Wynn, one of the world’s largest entertainment resort companies, in conjunction with real estate firm Related Companies, were submitted to the city with expanded proposals for the project in February.

Last month’s released images show a three-tower scheme with a 1,750-room hotel that will house the gaming facility in its skyscraper, a 1,366-ft office building, and an x-shaped residential block with 1,507 spaces.

Despite support for the development, which will include a 750-seat school, a community facility, a daycare scheme and green space roughly the same size as Bryant Park, Manhattan’s Community Board 4 has opposed it, releasing a scathing letter sent to Wynn Resorts and Related Companies. The board’s intervention could be a crucial blow.

What The Objections To The Hudson Yard Development Focus On 

Manhattan Community Board 4 is the appointed advisory group to the New York City government covering Hudson Yards, Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea. The board has objected to the abandonment of an earlier promise to turn over the area primarily to extensive housing developments.

In the April 1 letter, MCB4 said:

“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.”

The concerns specifically relate to a long-standing agreement for the Hudson Yards Special District. The 2009 scheme envisioned 5,700 residential apartments and a single commercial building for the district. They would be integrated into connected open public spaces.

The correspondence signed by MCB4 chair Jessica Chait went further to say:

“Now, the applicant, Related Companies, solely in pursuit of casino dollars as a means to fund the platform over the WRY , proposes to amend that plan out of existence in favor of 2 oversize commercial towers, one of a hotel with 1,750 keys, sitting on the equivalent of a 20-story base containing a casino.”

The association further proposed a compromise of scaling down the project to feature a single hotel and casino complex with the rest of the land allocated to apartments rather than commercial-oriented tower blocks.

Wider community concerns about the establishment of new casino and gaming developments in New York continue to be raised. These include that such facilities will exacerbate gambling problems, cause congestion and divert money from existing entertainment options such as Broadway shows.

Related Companies & Wynn Continue To Extoll The Benefits Of Their Hudson Yard Plans

In response, a company spokesperson for Related Companies was keen to stress that in their view, the plans for Hudson Yard meet the pledges outlined in the original vision for the area:

“We are proud that our project on the Western Yards will deliver on all of the pledges made in the original zoning including affordable housing, 5.6 acres of green open space, and a public school."

Proponents of the scheme continue to argue that it will bring in much-needed dollars to the area, provide a boost to tourism and provide employment opportunities. Indeed, the Wynn and Related Companies proposal cites the creation of 35,000 union construction jobs. Further, the complex is expected to employ some 5,000 staff in permanent roles.

In an area like Midtown, which continues to make slow progress recovering in the post-pandemic era, the boost to its economy is described as a ‘generational’ one by the developers. For the City and State of New York, the increase in tax receipts may be the biggest draw. The cost of a casino license fee alone is said to be around $500 million. 

Gambling has enabled the Empire State to generate significant revenue over recent years, with New York’s legal sportsbooks having paid around $1.55 billion in taxes during the first two years since sports betting was legalized. 

Despite New York implementing one of the highest tax rates in the country on operators, the Hudson Yards west project suggests Wynn's commitment to the state. Having pulled the WynnBet sportsbook from a number of other states recently, it continues to operate in NY and may hope that a high profile physical presence will help to boost brand engagement amongst New Yorkers.

Competition Continues For New Casino Licenses In New York

The debate is likely to rumble on for some time yet. Current timescales mean that the award of three new state casino licenses for the New York City and downstate regions is not expected until the end of 2025.

There are thought to be at least 11 developers vying for the three available licenses. Crucially, the fate of all of the proposals rests, in the first instance, in the hands of the relevant advisory boards in each area.

They have been tasked with gauging local support and being convinced not only by the economic benefits but also by the wider good to affected neighborhoods. Clearly, Wynn and Related Companies still have some work to do in that regard. 

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