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Thor Equities Reveals $3B Coney Island Casino Proposal

Thor Equities has revealed its plans for a Coney Island casino. 

A rendering of The Coney.

Dubbed The Coney, the $3B project would add more than just gaming to the historic entertainment district. The proposal includes a more than 250K SF, 500-room hotel, a 92K SF convention center, more than 70K SF of retail featuring more than a dozen restaurants, and a 2,500-seat concert venue.

It also includes more than an acre of new publicly accessible open space. Pedestrian walkways and skybridges would connect the new and existing developments. The project would rise next to the Coney Island subway station, the terminus of the D, F, N and Q trains.

Thor, the Manhattan-based firm run by CEO Joe Sitt, is the lead developer of the project, which is also backed by Saratoga Casino Holdings; the Chickasaw Nation’s business entity, Global Gaming Solutions; and Legends, the casino's entertainment partner that was founded as a joint venture between the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys.

“For two years we have been speaking with the residents of Coney Island and Southern Brooklyn about the need for a project that creates careers, supports local businesses, and centers entertainment around the idea of a playground that is truly accessible to the people,” Saratoga Casino Holdings CEO Sam Gerrity said in a statement. “We have heard time and time again that Coney Island needs a project that provides year-round economic support while also lifting up the infrastructure in one of the most densely traveled areas of the community.”

Coney Island, New York City's original seaside resort community, has long struggled to become a year-round destination. The proposal, which has backing from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, has received more than 10,000 signed petitions in support of the project, according to the press release. 

A rendering of The Coney with the Wonder Wheel in the background

Thor is just one of the major developers pursuing a downstate casino license, of which there are only three coming available. Though several developers have released shiny renderings, none will come to fruition anytime soon. Licenses cost $500M to obtain and won’t be handed out by regulators until 2025, the New York Post reported

SL GreenCaesars Entertainment and Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation envision a casino and hotel in Times Square at 1515 Broadway, which currently houses Viacom's world headquarters and the Minskoff Theater. The group estimates that its planned 250K SF gambling space and 950 hotel rooms would be a $967M boost to annual spending in the area.

Other real estate owners have come out in support of the Times Square proposal, however, a new poll commissioned by the No Times Square Casino Coalition found that 71% of registered voters who live in and around Times Square oppose the plans. The respondents cited concerns surrounding worsening traffic congestion, crime and overall quality of life.

A rendering of The Coney from the view of the subway station

The Soloviev Group is tying its proposal — on a large, undeveloped site next to the United Nations on the East Side of Manhattan — to a promise of more affordable housing. In addition to a Ferris wheel and museum, 1,325 apartments would be built, nearly 40% of which would be offered permanently below market-rate rent, The New York Times reported.

Near the Javits CenterSilverstein Properties has proposed the Avenir, two connected 46-story towers with 1,000 luxury hotel rooms, a 1,000-seat performance hall and 12 restaurants. Silverstein said it would employ 9,500 union workers and build at least 100 affordable housing units as part of the proposal, which counts Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment as its gaming partner.

In nearby Hudson YardsRelated Cos. has formally requested permission to change its plans for the second phase of its $25B Hudson Yards project to include a casino run by Wynn Resorts. The plans also call for two supertall towers for office and hotel as well as a 1,500-unit apartment building.

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen is also in the game with a proposal for multiple hotel towers, a music venue and 20 acres of green space surrounding Citi Field in Queens. The $8B development, in partnership with Hard Rock International, is being called Metropolitan Park.

Others have backed out as competition has heated up. Vornado Realty Trust had previously considered developing a casino on the site of the now-demolished Hotel Pennsylvania, across from Madison Square Garden.

“It is highly likely that we will not pursue a casino license,” Vornado CEO Steven Roth said during a conference call in October.