Resorts World chooses Newburgh Mall as the situation for a brand new arcade

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Chris McKenna

| Times Herald Record

Resorts World Catskills Casino is open for business after the COVID-19 shutdown

Resorts World Catskills Casino has reopened after the mandatory casino closure in New York State due to COVID-19.

Patrick Oehler, Poughkeepsie Journal

CITY OF NEWBURGH – The casino operators who operate Resorts World Catskills in Sullivan County are planning to open a new arcade with video lottery terminals in part of Newburgh Mall. This move would position a major player in the games industry at the intersection of two highways.

Resorts World has been authorized by the state since 2019 to open a facility in Orange County to use electronic slot machines previously licensed at Monticello Raceway in Sullivan. The company first looked for potential locations in the Harriman area near another interstate interchange, but turned its attention to an existing industrial estate about 20 minutes' drive north of Harriman.

"Developing a video slot machine in Orange County has been part of Resorts World's long-term vision for the Hudson Valley and the Catskills for many years," Genting, the parent company of Resorts World, said in a statement to the Times Herald Record Friday: "It will create hundreds of well-paying union jobs, generate significant revenue for New York public schools, and is an important step in ensuring the long-term sustainability of Resorts World Catskills. "

How many machines Resorts World would accommodate at its planned Newburgh location has not been determined. Monticello Raceway has hosted VLTs since 2004 and had 1,100 when that operation ended in 2019 after the opening of the casino six miles away in the town of Thompson made the racetrack machines obsolete.

Resorts World will present its plans to the Newburgh Town Board at its workshop session on February 22nd. Town Supervisor Gil Piaquadio said this week that the proposal would ask the board to change its zones to allow games in that area, and would require approval of the planning board after an environmental review.

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Resorts World plans to rent 68,877 square feet of land that was formerly a Bon Ton department store and has been occupied by a Jennifer Furniture store since August 1st. Bon-Ton was vacated in 2018 after the company went bankrupt and closed all 260 US stores.

Other jobs in Orange County

Orange County's executive Steve Neuhaus said Friday he was supportive of Resorts World's siting for the jobs it would bring to the Newburgh area and benefiting from the difficult mall it would occupy.

"I want it to be successful in this location and I think this area could use a boost," he said.

Newburgh Mall is a 40-year-old, enclosed shopping mall located on Route 300 next to the transportation hub where the Thruway and I-84 meet and are bordered on two sides by the highways. It's humble at 386,101 square feet – less than a fifth the size of the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack – and has the last remaining Sears in the Hudson Valley as anchor shops.

State lawmakers authorized Resorts World to move the Monticello Raceway VLTs to Orange County through a late budget increase in June 2019. Although no location was specified in the bill, Senator James Skoufis had urged Resorts World to build its VLT salon on the former site of the Nepera chemical plant in Harriman, in part to encourage a cleanup of the site and replenish the lost property tax revenue .

Skoufis said in a statement on Friday that the Nepera site was more heavily contaminated than previously known and would likely have to be rehabilitated for almost a decade. He praised the Newburgh Mall as an alternative that would spark the revitalization of a dying mall, generate tax revenue and other local benefits, and create well-paying jobs.

"I negotiated an agreement to bring a VLT to Orange County because our community will benefit significantly from the economic activity, employment and local revenues associated with the project," Skoufis said. "It was also of paramount importance to me that the proposal revitalized a community plague."

Advantages and disadvantages

A recent state-commissioned study found that a facility with 1,200 VLTs in or near the Nepera location could have sales of more than $ 200 million by 2025, on par with the much larger World Catskills resorts in Sullivan County. These calculations assumed some spill-over traffic from nearby Woodbury Common Premium Outlets and players who would otherwise be traveling west on Route 17 to Resorts World Catskills.

The opening of the VLT hall in Newburgh could lower those projections as it would forego those two benefits and move the facility's father away from the densely populated market in Bergen County, New Jersey and New York City.

Newburgh Gambling Hall is expected to employ up to 225 people and take up to a year to build once Resorts World receives approval from Newburgh and the State Gaming Commission.

The Newburgh Mall has been in trouble for more than a decade and sold for $ 7.7 million four years ago. City officials cut the mall's tax assessment by nearly 15 percent last year and agreed last week in a scheduled lawsuit with the mall's owners to cut that reduced tax base in half.

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Opening a gambling studio would likely see a strong recovery in the mall's taxable value, and thus more property tax revenue, for the City of Newburgh, Newburgh School District, and Orange County. The mall was paying approximately $ 1 million in annual property taxes prior to the upcoming assessment cut.

Jennifer Furniture, once a much larger chain, still has six stores in New York and New Jersey, including the six-month-old Newburgh location. Neither the company nor the Newburgh Mall have made public announcements that the Newburgh store will be closed.

Skoufis said in his statement that Woodbury officials and the owners of the former Nepera site recently reached a settlement in a tax dispute that will cause the owner to clean the property under the supervision of the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

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