The Shubert Organization strongly reaffirmed Broadway theater owners’ opposition to SL Green’s and Caesars Entertainment’s controversial proposal to bring a casino to Times Square.
Although the Broadway League, which represents theater owners and producers, slammed the proposal announced last month as “detrimental” to the city and to Times Square, a number of influential voices came forward to endorse it. Among them: Actors Equity, former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton (who devised a safety plan for the area with SL Green) and the owners of local restaurants including Carmine’s, Virgil’s and Junior’s Cheesecake.
Some Times Square-watchers cited their support as showing cracks in the anti-casino ranks. But the Broadway League remains the district’s most influential single force, and Shubert is the largest theater-owner.
During a podcast last week hosted by CBRE senior economic advisor Spencer Levy, Shubert real estate VP Julio Peterson reiterated the League’s view that the plan to create a casino inside SL Green’s 1515 Broadway office tower would be “disruptive to theatergoers, and we don’t think it’s the best thing for our district.”
Peterson said he didn’t object to having a major casino in the city, but only to putting it in Times Square.
“I think we have to protect it and not get lost in sort of the immediate gratification . . . and not think of long-term solutions and sustainability for Broadway,” he said.
SL Green CEO Marc Holliday, in announcing the partnership bid with Caesars, touted it as a “rallying point for Times Square to have a catalyst of something very positive” to reverse some recent “degradation” in the area, as well as to pump billions of additional tax revenue to the city and state.
His company is said to believe that the “Crossroads of the World” faces trouble not only from crime upticks, but also from less noticed trends such as reduced office occupancy and the gradual replacement of national retailers by fast-food outlets.
However, SL Green is keeping the lid on the specifics of its proposal until the end of the year — such as how the casino would be fitted inside, and how many floors it would have, at 1515 Broadway, a 54-story tower that’s home to Paramount Global’s headquarters and to the Minskoff Theater where “The Lion King” is playing.
No one at publicly traded SL Green would comment.
But a source said the company was considering a “boutique, high-end gaming facility” that would include a five-star hotel, retail, food stations, special signage and “experiential technology” to broadcast into Times Square.
Where to approve a casino in the five boroughs is up to the state, which is expected to issue a formal request for proposals by the end of the year and choose one of them in 2023. Among other hopefuls, Related Companies earlier announced a partnership with Wynn Resorts to build a casino at Hudson Yards.
The proposals will be submitted to a six-person panel of city and state officials. The blessings of at least four panel members are required for any of the plans to move to the state’s siting panel, which will select a location.
But even after that, the city will have a say in plans for the chosen location — probably including environmental, traffic-pattern and land-use reviews.
On Nov. 15, City Planning Commission chairman Dan Garodnick is to discuss Times Square’s future — and the city’s role in it — at a Broadway Association forum, which I will moderate on Tuesday at Bond 45.