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Queens Chronicle

Convention ctr. could come to boro

Genting unveils plans for complex near Aqueduct

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Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:06 pm, Thu Jun 30, 2011.

The company that is opening the racino at Aqueduct is also eyeing building a convention center near the race track, according to Genting officials who unveiled the plans before a state board this week and state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach).

Genting is the operator of the city’s first casino, called Resorts World Casino New York, in South Ozone Park.

Representatives from the company gave a presentation to the state Franchise Oversight Board on Monday in Albany, at which time they said they are interested in possibly erecting a convention complex near Aqueduct.

The state’s largest convention center is the Javits Center in Manhattan.

“Resorts World is absolutely interested in undertaking additional projects on the land surrounding Aqueduct if the right opportunity exists, subject to approval of all relevant authorities, including the Franchise Oversight Board,” said Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for Resorts World. “Of course, our focus right now is opening Resorts World Casino New York, which will help stimulate the local economy in Queens by providing 1,150 new, permanent jobs and countless indirect jobs into the community.”

A Genting representative who made the presentation to the state also reported that each of the 5,000 video lottery terminals expected to open at the casino will make about $380 daily.

Addabbo said a convention center would likely be welcomed in Queens because of the revenue it would generate for the city and state.

Before throwing all his support behind such a complex, the legislator said he would “look at the opportunity for jobs in the area and consider the other issues that come along with a project like that, such as traffic patterns and public safety.”

Still, he said the complex could make the city more competitive with other states that boast more convention centers.

“The city needs to make a better effort to compete with other cities in terms of gaining businesses,” Addabbo said.

The city has proposed building a small convention center at Willets Point, though it is not included in the first phase of the development project, nor is there a timeline for it.

Jerry Antonacci, a leader of Willets Point United, a group that opposes the city plans for the area, is not optimistic that Genting’s plans would change anything for the business owners who do not want to leave.

“It would not mean a thing,” Antonacci said. “They will still try and steal our land and force us out, so as far as still abusing us that wouldn’t stop, and their next move will be to put a soccer stadium there.”

Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton did not comment on whether the board would back a center, saying she is focusing on the casino’s expected opening at the end of the summer.

Addabbo also reported that sources he could not name have confirmed there will be additional police officers deployed around Aqueduct.

Residents have been concerned that extra police would not be allocated for the area surrounding the casino, which is expected to bring in more than eight million visitors annually.

“It’s not just five or 10 officers,” Addabbo said. “It’s more in the vicinity of 40. Certainly we need it. There will be a period of time when traffic and crowds will be a problem because it’s a new entity. Over time, the traffic patterns and crowds will level out. I believe Resorts World will be a very successful destination.”

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