Foxwoods Catskills Resort Casino
A sports complex, an equestrian center and a 7,500-square-foot spa. A 400-room hotel and town houses. Twenty-seven holes of golf and a lake side marina.
And a casino, too. All in rustic, woodsy buildings designed by the firm behind such casinos as the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas and Harrah’s in Atlantic City.
This is the more than $400 million Foxwoods Catskills Resort Casino proposed for the 1,200 acres of land on and adjacent to the old Grossinger’s resort site.
The team behind the casino — Connecticut’s Foxwoods casino and New York City’s Muss Development — introduced a “sketch plan” of their project Monday night before a supportive crowd of more than 200 at Liberty High School. It’s a project, said Muss’ Chief Operating Officer Jeff Kay and Foxwoods Catskills Resort President Sal Semola, that’s designed to fit in with the woodsy, Catskill mountaintop setting that drew thousands to Grossinger’s during the region’s heyday.
“This is first and foremost a resort,” Semola said. “It just happens to be a casino.”
If Monday’s crowd is any indication, the project enjoys plenty of local support — especially from the electrical union workers who packed the crowd.
“I’ve seen projects done by Muss in the city and they’re fabulous,” said longtime Liberty resident and decades-long supporter of the elusive Sullivan County casino, Evan Bloom. “I actually think this could happen. The players are for real.”
Still, the project faces stiff competition — and lengthy state and local reviews — before it can become reality.
The Foxwoods Catskills Resort Casino is one of at least six contenders for the up to two Catskill casinos allowed by state law. A total of four upstate casinos will be chosen in three regions — the Capital/Saratoga region, the Southern Tier and the Catskills/Hudson Valley, with one region, receiving two. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the selections will be made in the fall.
One of the other contenders for a Catskill casino is developer Louis Cappelli’s slice of the old Concord resort. Cappelli, who also owns the original Grossinger’s property, just signed an agreement with Foxwoods and Muss that allows the Foxwoods Catskill Resort Casino to use the Grossinger’s entrance and its golf course. Muss owns the 600 acres adjacent to the crumbling hotel, which will be demolished.
Cappelli, who’s been trying to build a casino at his Concord resort property near Monticello for more than a decade, will not try to build one at Grossinger’s.
AND YET ANOTHER SHAKES THE DICE
MAMAKATING — Add a new contender — with a familiar name and location — to the competition for a Catskill casino.
Rochester developer David Flaum wants to transform his Shawanga Lodge property in Mamakating into one of the up to two non-Indian casinos allowed in the Catskills.
The project is listed on Tuesday night’s work session for the Mamakating Town Board. Flaum declined to describe any details of it until then.
“Out of respect for the community, I’ll have no comment until after the meeting,” he said.
The Basha Kill Area Association environmental group issued an “action alert” to its members for the meeting. It opposes the project atop the environmentally sensitive Shawangunk Ridge.
Flaum was an active player in another race for a Catskill casino more than a decade ago. The Shawanga Lodge property — off Route 17’s Exit 114 — was one of several that vied for one of the up to five Indian casinos Gov. George Pataki wanted built in the Catskills. The Sha-wa-ga Lodge itself closed and burnt down in the early 1970s.
Now the project joins a crowded list of several contenders for a Catskill casino. That list includes two projects each at the old Concord and Grossinger’s resorts in Sullivan County, one at the old Nevele resort in Ulster and another on land in Rock Hill.
State law now allows four non-Indian casinos in three regions — the Catskills/Hudson Valley, the Southern Tier and the Capital/Saratoga region — with one region getting up to two. That area is widely believed to be the Catskills.
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