Casino plans for E23 are no more.
Developer David Flaum and Capital Region OTB are pulling their partnership with Global Gaming Solutions to build a casino on site near state Thruway Exit 23 in Albany in favor of a waterfront location in Rensselaer known as de Laet's Landing. Albany Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin was informed of the move this morning by Justin McCarthy, a representative of the E23 coalition, which is expected to make an official announcement later today.
Kym Koch, a spokeswoman for Global Gaming, said the decision to abandon the E23 site hinged on the property being incompatible with the vision the company had for a casino. Though not citing any specific issue with the 300-acre property, she said a study of the land showed that is would no longer be suitable to create the amount of jobs and level tax revenues Global Gaming had originally forecast with its proposal.
"A thorough review of the E23 site uncovered significant land development constraints that limit our ability to deliver a destination gaming resort at that property," she said. "We believe that the DeLaet’s Landing site offers the best opportunity to develop a world-class facility that will bring jobs and tax revenues to the Albany area."
The looming announcement comes after a week when the E23 partnership fell nearly silent. The group missed a public hearing in the town of Bethlehem last week and were slow to respond to questions Albany officials had about the site this week.
"I feel like I'm mourning an opportunity we've missed out on," said the disappointed council president.
McLaughlin said the partnership didn't specify exactly why they were pulling out of Albany. She said they did indicate last week's announcement of a shared headquarters between Thruway Authority and the state Department of Transportation nearby the proposed E23 site played a factor.
"They did mention the DOT project coming over to thruway had become problematic and at this point they had no detals on how that is going to work," she said.
On Tuesday, Jeff West of U.W. Marx Construction, which owns de Laet's Landing, indicated something was afoot for the 24-acre site on the Hudson River. Penn National and Cordish Companies had courted the developer for months, but opted instead to focus their energies on a casino proposal in Orange County — a far more lucrative market than the Capital Region.
"We've got something brewing," West said Tuesday.
Switching to de Laet's Landing will also give Flaum, Capital OTB and Global Gaming something they couldn't land at the site on the outskirts of Albany: Access to a waterfront. This will give the partnership a chance to rival the multi-modal approach now being touted by Rush Street Gaming and the Galesi Group, which are proposing a casino at the former American Locomotive Co. site on the Mohawk River in Schenectady.
For some in Albany, though, the demise of E23, once thought to be a front-runner in the bid for the Capital Region's casino license, is a disappointment and an opportunity lost. McLaughlin said she'll support a casino in Rensselaer over one in Schenectady or East Greenbush, but she's still saddened by the opportunity lost in Albany.
"It was providing some spark of hope for people," she said."Now those embers have been blown out."