“A room full of slot machines in Yonkers has no sex appeal,” Steve Wynn told the Transom.
It was July 28, just before 6 p.m., and Mr. Wynn, of the eponymous Wynn Resorts, was relaxing in his attorney’s conference room on the 23rd floor of the New York Times building, following an exhausting day of lobbying city editorial boards.
By “a room full of slot machines,” Mr. Wynn was referring to Empire City at Yonkers Raceway, an unadorned symbol of what he will not build at the Queens Aqueduct in Ozone Park should he win the hotly contested development and slot-machine rights. The prize is worth billions of dollars over the 30-year lease, both to the state and to the developer. It would be Mr. Wynn’s first big New York City investment, and, he said, his first investment in a racino (part racetrack, part casino).
So why here? Why now?
“New York City is New York City is New York City,” Mr. Wynn said. Behind him sat an easel holding a rendering of his vision for Ozone Park. It didn’t reveal much (Mr. Wynn is trying to abide by the state’s request not to reveal details of his proposal), but its aesthetic came through: a creamy white facade, billowing canopies, balconies, an ambience that he described as “high-end clubby.”
He faces stiff competition, including SL Green’s Marc Holliday and a team that combines R. Donahue Peebles, Harbinger Capital and MGM.
But all indications are that Mr. Wynn’s ambitions are serious. He has “$1 billion in cash in a bank, in T-bills;” has hired Long Island–based PR exec Robert Zimmerman; and his staff will signal its dedication to the community by attending a National Night Out anti-crime event in Joseph P. Addabbo Park on Aug. 4.
“Anyone can put up phony renderings,” Mr. Wynn said. “I build places that are beautiful and attractive.”