Developers unveil casino designs and potential deal-breaker

A team of four development partners unveiled details of their plans and designs for the construction and operation of a casino and resort facility at the Town of Florida board meeting last Monday night. In addition to a casino and hotel, plans include two 18 hole golf courses and a total of 300 residential units. Representatives of the four developers and Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort spoke about the potential benefits of the proposed idea, as well as announced that they would ask for a time extension and a reduction in NY State’s application fee in order for them to proceed.

Ossenfort made a case that out of all the communities seeking to build casinos in Upstate NY, Montgomery County was the best suited. According to Ossenfort, the majority of voters in Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga and Washington counties voted against the creation of new casinos in a referendum on the issue in 2013, while Montgomery County residents voted for it. He quoted statistics that showed Montgomery County has one of the highest unemployment and poverty rates in NY, and would therefore benefit the most from the casino development.

Ossenfort spoke highly of the developers. “They’re good people with a good track record – a track record of success but also caring about the community,” said Ossenfort.

The four development partners at the meeting were Vandewalle Associates, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, Clairvest Group, Inc, and Financial District Properties. They unveiled a three-phase, $250 million plan for developing the 500 acre area near Thruway exit 27.

Phase 1

  • Casino with 1,250 slot machines and 40 game tables
  • 100 room hotel with spa, event space, dining and recreation facility
  • 100 residential villas
  • Outdoor public meeting space for gatherings including farmer’s markets
  • Outdoor pool and lounging area

Phase 2

  • 18 hole championship golf course
  • Golf academy
  • Recreational vehicle facility
  • 100 more residential villas

Phase 3

  • Second 18 hole golf course
  • 100 more residential villas
  • Additional commercial development

The developers listed the following potential economic benefits to the region:

  • 453 construction jobs over the 2 year development timeline
  • 850 permanent jobs with a median salary of $42,000
  • $5.7 million in yearly revenue to Montgomery County
  • $1 million in yearly revenue to the City of Amsterdam
  • $4.7 million in yearly revenue to the Town of Florida
  • Additional revenue from property taxes and water/sewer fees

However, Ossenfort and the developers explained that they would be asking NY State to grant all applicants a 60 day extension past the current June 30 deadline for the application submissions. They said they would also ask for a reduction in the application fee from $50 million to $25 million in exchange for a small increase in the amount of taxes paid to the state and the municipalities.

Both Ossenfort and representatives of the development companies said that the changes were necessary due to the estimated revenue and slim profit margins of the facility. According to the developers, “without amendments to the [Request for Applications], the proposed development will not be put forward on June 30.”

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.