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Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Capital Region News
4:57 PM
THU AUGUST 14, 2014

Albany Holds Out 'Casino Hopes' DONATE HERE

Even though the city of Albany is out of the competition to land a casino, the Common Council may soon get to vote on supporting one.

Credit WAMC composite photo by Dave Lucas
You may have thought Albany had washed its hands of the casino issue early in the summer when the E23 plan crumbled and developer David Flaum set sail for Rensselaer. Mayor Kathy Sheehan sent a short letter to Common Council members, asking they not endorse any of the Capital Region casino projects prior to the state's June 30 application deadline. There is one casino license available for the Capital Region. DONATE HERE
At the time, none of the local proposals were inside the city or county, so  Albany was not in line for any monetary benefits casinos would pay host communities. That has changed.
The forces behind a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino planned for the city of Rensselaer, undoubtedly mindful of the fact Albany is going through a financial crisis, stepped up to the plate, offering Albany $1 million a year for the next 10 years in exchange for Albany's support for the $280 million riverfront development. Neighboring community support is considered an important part of the gaming commission’s siting process.
According to published reports, once June 30 passed, Albany struck an agreement with the partnerships in Rensselaer and East Greenbush to jointly pay for a consultant Albany would select to analyze the pros and cons of each plan with regard to the capital city.
The reports say the offer includes jobs training programs. The Times Union says Mayor Sheehan has told lawmakers to expect written proposals from both the Rensselaer and East Greenbush teams within days.
"I found out about the million dollars when I read the paper this morning."  Tenth ward Common Council member Leah Golby DONATE HERE and her colleagues would have to approve any arrangement.
Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer says he's glad to give the city across the river a boost.  "Albany is a little tight on cash, so we figure a million dollars would help them in the economic condition they're in. But there's more to it than just a million dollalrs. There's job creation, and we're gonna help their hotels over there, because overflow - when the people call into the Hard Rock for a hotel room, it's gonna be upscale and some people aren't gonna be able to afford that price, so what we're gonna do is recommend hotels in Albany."
Golby says Wednesday night, the council talked about casinos for the first time in weeks.  "We were just discussing that we would be hearing from the mayor on what she was seeking support what she thought would be appropriate for the city to seek support from. I think the council as a whole is waiting to see what the mayor brings to us, and then there is of course, the Rensselaer site has been courting the city very proactively." DONATE HERE
Former county legislator Brian Scavo issued a statement saying he believes Hard Rock casino deal maker Flaum is acting in desperation by offering Albany a million dollars. Quoting Scavo:  DONATE HERE"Sheehan and” Common Council president Carolyn “McLauglin should have had more concern for the taxpayers of Albany when the city of Albany had LOST two chances for two casino deals , which would have meant tax relief for the city of Albany." 
Mayor Sheehan's office did not immediately respond to a call for comment.   Flaum's offer dangles the prospect of jobs training programs, but some critics of casino development say the projects rarely results in jobs for people who seem to need them most. The question of whether casinos spur economic development or merely further depress challenged areas has been debated across upstate New York and in neighboring Massachusetts in recent months.
Again, Leah Golby: "The potential positive impact of jobs is very real and hopeful, but there could also be negative impacts of increased crime and traffic."
Golby says she'll wait and see if East Greenbush and its Churchill Downs-Saratoga Racino project comes up with a million-dollar offer of its own. The state has yet to select a casino site from the four applicants, which also include Schenectady and Schoharie County at Howe Caverns. A Montgomery County proposal was disqualified. DONATE HERE


Albany Common Council Vote Supports Rensselaer Casino    DONATE HERE

Last night the Albany Common Council voted to support the Rensselaer casino project. But there's still a lot of uncertainty and dealmakers are facing criticism.  DONATE HERE

Common Council members voted 12-3 to conditionally, and not exclusively, support the Hard Rock Casino project after much eleventh hour positioning. Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer offered Albany $1 million a year for 10 years in exchange for the city supporting the Hard Rock. There was no written agreement - so Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan put to paper her own version, embellishing the deal by tacking on two percent a year to account for inflation. Dwyer nixed the offer and gave the Albany an 8:30 p.m. deadline to accept his offer.
Times Union reporter DONATE HEREJordan Carleo-EvangelistDONATE HERE was at the council meeting.  "The council new this deadline existed. What the council didn't really know were any details about what Dwyer was offering beyond the dollar amount."DONATE HERE
It appeared that the council would not vote on it, because they didn’t have something in writing.   "At more or less the last minute Councilman Frank Commisso Jr. Offered a sort of compromise where the council took its resolution of support for the Rensselaer Casino and watered it down a bit. They added all these contingencies in it such that their support was contingent on reaching a ten million dollar with Rensselaer, that it was also contingent upon reaching a separate agreement with the private concerns behind the Hard Rock Casino in Rensselaer for jobs and economic development, and its not exclusive to Rensselaer, meaning the city council reserved its right to support the East Greenbush project or conceivably even the Schenectady project, or the Schoharie County Project. It ended up passing 12 to 3 but its certainly not the resounding call of support that Rensselaer was looking for."DONATE HERE
Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer did not return calls for comment.  Former Albany County Legislator Brian Scavo argues officials dropped the ball.   "It's bad enough that the Albany Common Council and Kathy Sheehan couldn't put together a deal on behalf of the city of Albany that was handed to them on a silver platter. The mayor of Rensselaer has no choice but to turn this deal down. This is not the deal that he requested, from what I understand. Which leads me to believe that Kathy Sheehan didn't want this deal in the first place."DONATE HERE
A spokesman for the Sheehan administration says there are no updates from City Hall.
Third Ward Council Member Ron Bailey has worked hard to involve Albany in the Rensselaer casino process. He defended jabs that the lawmakers haven't been able to get their act together .  "We're not told anything till the last minute, when they need something done. We're left out there in the open, and I tell ya there's only certain council members that the Mayor's office is actually sharing stuff with. So you get a group of us that we don't know anything but you get a group that comes in and knows what the mayor wants to do and stuff...but we don't find out till the last minute. So yeah there's a communication problem goin' on there."
10th ward Council Member Leah Golby was one of three who voted against the agreement.  "I dissented because I did not like the artificial deadline that was imposed on us."
Some in attendance commented on social media about apparent 'strong-arm tactics' by Mayor Dwyer - Golby wasn't comfortable with what she perceived as a lack of details.   "There's been very little information from the developer in terms of the number of jobs, how they would be recruiting people from the city of Albany, because if this is all about the jobs, the information that we received last night included NO information about how many people they were going to be hiring from the city of Albany."
The measure agreed to last night didn’t preclude lawmakers from also supporting a casino project in neighboring East Greenbush from Churchill Downs and Saratoga Casino and Raceway...  What happens next? Again, Leah Golby:  "We need something in writing. Our resolution calls for that. It calls for an agreement  with the developer regarding mitigation of negative impacts and commitments to facilitate and support positive impacts on the city of Albany including economic development within the city, opportunities  for the Albany business community and employment and training of Albany residents. And also a written agreement with the city of Rensselaer for that one million dollars a year. We need that."
The Capital Region is slated to receive one of the state’s four casino licenses.DONATE HERE

Monday, June 9, 2014


Land near Thruway Exit 23 in Albany, New York is no longer being pursued for a $300 million resort casino now that a development team is instead targeting a site across the Hudson River in the city of Rensselaer.DONATE HERE
"A thorough review of the 'E23' site uncovered significant land development constraints that limit our ability to deliver a destination gaming resort at that property," according to a statement released by Global Gaming Solutions.
Global Gaming Solutions is the commercial arm of Chickasaw Nation, an Oklahoma Indian tribe pursuing one of four casino licenses that will be awarded in upstate New York.
"We believe that the DeLaet’s Landing site [in Rensselaer] offers the best opportunity to develop a world-class facility that will bring jobs and tax revenues to the Albany area," Global Gaming Solutions said.DONATE HERE
The statement was released this morning after representatives of Rochester-based real estate developer Flaum Management Co. Inc. contacted Albany city leaders to let them know about the decision to abandon the Exit 23 location in favor of the Rensselaer site.
Specific details were not released, such as the size of the proposed casino, number of gaming machines, or estimated revenue generated for the city or Rensselaer County.
Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer said the city council will consider a resolution of support for the casino at its 6:30 p.m. meeting today. Council members previously voted to support a casino, but the resolution must now make specific reference to the new plans.
Dwyer first told Albany Business Review on Tuesday about the possibility of a casino at de Laet's Landing, but said he couldn't disclose details.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said today she wasn't surprised by the turnabout given the way she said Flaum Management handled the project since announcing the plans with a big flourish in March.
"It has been very frustrating to have a developer come in and make promises and commitments to a community that clearly had no basis in fact," Sheehan said of the pledge that the 60 acres near the Thruway could also support a water park and other family-oriented attractions.
She said engineers later told Flaum only 17 of the acres were developable because of wetlands and other issues, and that there were problems with accessing the property off Route 9W behind state Thruway Authority maintenance garages, a salt shed and other buildings.
Albany Common Counclil President Carolyn McLaughlin said she was "very disappointed right about now with this turn of events."
Common Council member Judd Krasher released a statement criticizing Flaum, an influential Rochester developer.
"We all knew we couldn't trust David Flaum -- no matter how many promises he was making us or how good they may have sounded," Krasher said.
A spokesman for Flaum declined to respond to the comments from the mayor or Krasher.
Flaum's move across the river means there will be two sites in Rensselaer County competing for a state casino license. The other, in East Greenbush, is being pursued by a partnership between Saratoga Casino and Raceway and Churchill Downs Inc.
That site, off Route 4, has become controversial, with a vocal group of opponents squaring off against a coalition of business owners and other supporters. The Town Board will hold a public hearing tonight.
McCarthy said she was told one of the factors in Flaum's decision was Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to consolidate roughly 2,000 state transportation and Thruway Authority employees into a new headquarters near Exit 23, an area that fronts the 60 acres that was initially targeted for a casino.
Cuomo made the surprise announcement last week about the new, joint headquarters that will replace the Thruway Authority building at Exit 23.
McLaughlin said the development team didn't know how it was going to manage another 1,500 or so cars going to the site in addition to the traffic that would be generated by the casino.
McLaughlin said she was disappointed by the loss of millions of dollars in revenue that had been promised to the city if the casino was built near Exit 23, along with new jobs for Albany residents.
"Quite a few in the most distressed areas were very supportive of this and that will be lost to these folks," McLaughlin said.DONATE HERE
Albany's loss will be the city of Rensselaer's gain, along with that of U.W. Marx Construction Co. of Troy, the developers of the long-planned de Laet's Landing at the riverfront where the casino would be built if it wins a state license.
Peter Marx of U.W. Marx could not immediately be reached for comment.
The 60 acres near Exit 23 in Albany are owned by members of the Noonan family. When contacted this morning, Peter Noonan, the eldest of the four siblings who own the land, said he had not spoken to representatives of Flaum Management in about 10 days. He wasn't aware they were instead going to pursue a site in Rensselaer.
"No kidding," said Noonan, who reacted nonchalantly to the news.
Flaum Management Co. signed a contract to purchase the land, contingent upon getting approval to build a casino there. You can read more here about that land deal, which is obviously no longer going forward.DONATE HERE


Monday, May 12, 2014

Bidding Adieu To The Popular Dodge Grand Caravan, BRIAN SCAVO