Schenectady County

Schenectady chamber gives unanimous OK to Alco casino proposal

The Chamber of Schenectady County and several business owners formally announced their support for a

At a glance

The Board of Directors of the Chamber of Schenectady County unanimously passed a resolution in support of the casino, the chamber said on Wednesday. Business owners who have signed on include:

• Joe Masher, chief operating officer, Bow Tie Cinemas

• Bobby and Johnny Mallozzi, co-owners, Johnny’s Restaurant

• Angelo Mazzone, owner, Mazzone Hospitality

• Matt Baumgartner, owner, Bombers Burrito Bar/Biergarten

• Peter Blackman, co-owner, Aperitivo

• William Mark Young, co-owner, Mexican Radio

• Andy Zheng, owner, Zen

• Marc Renson, owner, Ambition

• Jerry Menagias, owner, Mama’s Ice Cream

• Nick Antoinette, owner, Peter Anthony’s Café

• Mohammed Waheed, owner, Taj Mahal

• Christine Mallozzi, owner, Belvedere Inn

• Alexis Crank-Harrison, general manager, The Parker Inn & Suites

• Antonio Civitella, president and CEO, Transfinder

• Giuseppe Veglio, owner, Paul Mitchell School

• Rudy Grant, co-owner and president, Experience and Creative Design

• Evan Euripidou, owner, Anthology

• Maryann Meskutovecz, owner, Lennon’s Irish Shop

• William Faubion, vice president and senior relationship manager, NBT Bank

• Joseph Straub, vice president, M/E Engineering

The Chamber of Schenectady County and several business owners formally announced their support for a casino proposed by the Galesi Group at the former American Locomotive Co. site.

More than 20 business leaders are on board with a casino in Schenectady because of the opportunity to create jobs, attract visitors and boost economic development in the area, they said.

“There is going to be a casino selected in the region, so why not have it here in Schenectady? We have an outstanding site,” said Charles Steiner, president and CEO of the chamber. “Revenue will go into the municipalities. This community has turned around, but it still has its needs. Schenectady warrants this kind of economic impact.”

“If the city succeeds, the businesses succeed,” said Bobby Mallozzi, owner of Villa Italia and co-owner of Johnny’s Restaurant, who also stressed the importance of additional revenue for Schenectady schools.

“The Schenectady City School District is fantastic, but there is no question that our schools are underfunded,” he said. “A casino will have a significant impact on the tax revenue, and that goes to the schools.”

Revenue from a casino in Schenectady is expected to provide $11.5 million annually for the city and the county, according to the state Division of the Budget. Schenectady schools are projected to gain $2 million.

Steiner said the most significant tax that businesses in the area face is property taxes. He pointed to a casino as a driver to lower taxes, which would help new and existing businesses.

“Schenectady is a great place to be, and our business community thrives on that positive business climate and attitude,” he said. “That will only grow with a casino here.”

During a public hearing on Monday hosted by the Schenectady County Legislature, officials from the Galesi Group and Rush Street Gaming of Chicago said the $300 million casino would create about 1,200 permanent jobs with a $50,000 average salary. It is also projected to attract 2.8 million visitors to the area.

Rush Street Gaming currently operates four other casinos, in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ontario. The Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor — the Schenectady casino’s official name — would be modeled after the group’s casino in Pittsburgh.

The Schenectady casino will include full table and slot gaming, restaurants, a riverfront patio area and parking garage. Neil Bluhm, chairman of Rush Street Gaming, said if awarded a casino license, he expects to have the facility up and running two years later.

Rotterdam-based Galesi Group is pitching the site for a casino but also has plans to revitalize the location, which sits between Erie Boulevard and the Mohawk River, with apartments, a hotel, restaurants and other amenities. The total price tag for the project is $450 million.

“This will complement the upgrades to Erie Boulevard,” said David Buicko, chief operating officer of Galesi Group, during the hearing on Monday. “Mohawk Harbor is going to happen. We are so far ahead in the competition in terms of the feasibility studies. That gives us an advantage.”

A majority of local residents who spoke at the hearing said they also support a casino in Schenectady. The Schenectady City Council plans to vote on a resolution of support for the project during its meeting on Monday.

The state Gaming Commission said a resolution from the proposed casino’s host municipality has to be submitted before June 30. Other locations in the region vying for a casino license include East Greenbush, Rensselaer, Cobleskill and Amsterdam. Sites will be chosen by the state in the fall.

“Having a potential of up to 1,200 new jobs in the county is significant,” Steiner said. “We are very impressed by Rush Street Gaming. This is a huge opportunity for businesses and for our young people. A casino is very exciting.”

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