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Jerome García January 15, 2024 3 min read
Freedom Plaza Project Faces Opposition from Manhattan Community Board
A recent vote of Manhattan Community Board 6 may impact a proposed multi-billion-dollar housing and casino project in Manhattan
Amid the ongoing race for three new downstate casino licenses in New York, proposed projects are facing challenges related to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). The city previously tabled a proposal that called to avoid procedures under ULURP that would require casinos to go through a review process related to the land use. Yet, a new report reveals that Manhattan Community Board 6 (CB6), representing Community District Six consisting of the East side of Manhattan from 14th to 59th Streets, voted against the city’s proposal for a casino project to void ULURP.
As announced by The City, an overwhelming majority of 39-to-1 voted against the city’s proposal calling for the casino project to be able to avoid processes of land use review. The vote effectively opposed the Department of City Planning’s proposal, creating a potential challenge for the casino project. CB6’s voting comes at a time when the city anticipates speeding up certain processes related to the three new casino bids. Under the proposed changes by the Department of City Planning, applicants who secure a casino license within different manufacturing and commercial districts would comply with local zoning rules without the need for further assessment.
Casey Berkovitz, the Department of City Planning’s spokesperson, previously explained: “With this text amendment, DCP will not have to process an individual rezoning application for each casino application, including those that are ultimately not granted licenses — a more efficient use of city time and resources.”
Freedom Plaza Project Plans to Introduce Affordable Housing
The latest vote revolved around a major project proposed by the Soloviev Group. The casino proposal for Midtown East fights for one of the three casino licenses that are expected to be awarded. The Soloviev Group’s project proposes the development of an apartment complex along with a casino on First Avenue between 38th and 41st streets.
The aforementioned housing and casino project plans to offer some 1,325 apartments. Some 30% of those apartments are expected to offer rent that is below the current market, offering affordable housing. Known as Freedom Plaza, the project plans to use more than six acres of land, delivering a mixed-use development and public open space plan.
In October, Soloviev Group’s CEO, Michael Hershman, spoke about the importance of the project that would offer affordable housing within New York City. “We are dedicated to mitigating the housing crisis within our community and intend to develop more than 500 affordable units, while also introducing meaningful economic and social benefit initiative,” he explained at the time.
If the company secures a license for its Freedom Plaza proposal, the project will be completed in partnership with Mohegan, the leading entertainment and gaming operator.