Schenectady County

Latest casino look: ‘New Schenectady’

Rush Street Gaming changed the facade of Schenectady’s casino a third time to reflect “the new Schen
Steel that will be used to reinforce the harbor walls of the Mohawk Harbor are unloaded July 9, 2015.
Steel that will be used to reinforce the harbor walls of the Mohawk Harbor are unloaded July 9, 2015.

Rivers Casino site

Rush Street Gaming changed the facade of Schenectady’s proposed casino again to reflect “the new Schenectady,” instead of “the old Schenectady.”

The Chicago-based casino operator released renderings Thursday depicting a new look for the Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor after receiving negative feedback from the public on its earlier switch from a modern to more traditional design.

“We spent a lot of time in the city and got enamored,” said designer Mike Levin of Development Management Associates in Chicago. “We wanted to do something more reflective of the city’s industrial period. Obviously the feedback we got is for the casino to symbolize the new Schenectady.”

Now the casino’s dark brown bricks and red signage have been replaced with precast stone and metal panels, looking more like the first drawings released by the company last August.

Rush Street is seeking site plan approval for the 150,000-square-foot casino during a special meeting with the city Planning Commission at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, in Room 110 at City Hall.

“We went back to the drawing board,” Levin said during a conference call at the Rivers Casino’s new Center City office on State Street. “We heard loud and clear what the community really wanted. Hopefully we met those expectations.”

Levin said the casino is made up of more contemporary materials and has “a cleaner look.” The casino features a courtyard and patio space overlooking the Mohawk River and landscaping including green screens with vegetation.

“The intent was to bring the river into the building and to use the courtyard for a lot of special events,” he said. “We have the steakhouse, the banquet facility and swimming pool all facing the river, and I think we use the river quite well and energize the site.”

The two new casino renderings provided by Rush Street are closeups of the casino and hotel. Earlier renderings of the previous designs showed more of the casino building and hotel.

The adjacent 150-room hotel, which is no longer connected to the casino, has glass at the corners to modernize the design, Levin said. The brand of the hotel has not yet been announced.

The earliest the state Gaming Commission can award casino licenses is Sept. 30. Levin said Rush Street plans to start construction soon after receiving a license and wants to have the facility completed within 16 to 18 months.

“We’re pleased with the new design,” he said. “This is a major investment, and we would not go before the public without being satisfied with it. It’s unusual for us to go back to the drawing board, but we want this casino to fit in.”

Rush Street is working with Klai Juba Wald Architects of Las Vegas on the casino’s design. The casino will feature a 50,000-square-foot gaming floor with 1,150 slot machines and 62 table games.

The casino will be 72 feet tall, cover about 18 percent of the site and be set back 71 feet from the river, according to plans submitted to the city. The casino will have 1,744 parking spaces, including a five-story parking garage.

Rivers Casino will have an 80-foot-tall pylon sign where Automated Dynamics now sits; that building will be demolished to make way for the development. The sign near Front Street will have a 32-foot digital display.

Work is underway by Rifenburg Construction on the old Alco site off Erie Boulevard as part of the Galesi Group’s plans to revitalize the 60-acre brownfield. Rifenburg is carving a 50-boat-slip harbor on the site, with the harbor’s steel walls arriving over the next several days, according to Galesi’s chief operating officer, David Buicko.

Water and sewer pipes are also being installed underground, and roads are being carved along the river. Construction of buildings on the site, including a 124-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel, will begin later this summer.

When completed, Mohawk Harbor will also include 191 apartments, 50 condominiums and 24 townhouses, with office and retail space, along with a bike trail and pedestrian walkway.

Rush Street is holding vendor and job fairs Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18, at Schenectady County Community College for businesses interested in partnering with the operator and local residents looking for future job opportunities at the casino.

The vendor fair will include a session at 8 a.m. and another at 3 p.m. July 17. The job fair will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 18.

The vendor fair will include a presentation, question-and-answer session and meet-and-greet for Capital Region businesses, said Joe Scibetta, vice president of operations for Rush Street.

“The message we will be talking about is what it’s like to sell and work with a casino and what we need in terms of volumes and what businesses we normally work with,” Scibetta said. “The afternoon session will be more for minority- and women-owned businesses.”

Rush Street will not be accepting applications and resumes at the job fair, Scibetta said. The event will simply be for people to learn more about what jobs will be available and qualifications they need to land a position at the casino.

“The job fair will allow folks to come in and meet our team and get an understanding of what will be available in terms of jobs and their requirements,” he said. “The key is to get people ready to work for us.”

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