Can you imagine a casino and hotel smack dab in the heart of Broadway’s Times Square?
It could happen, sooner or later, depending on who gets the nod to develop the casino/gambling rights over the next year or decade.
Roc Nation, the show biz agency founded by Jay-Z, is one of a growing list of three prospects to build a gambling element in the heart of the Great White Way, which, of course, is a mecca for Broadway musicals, plays, and comedies.
The site in the heart of Times Square, where the glittering ball is dropped on New Year’s Eve, is a 54-story office structure that fronts 44th and 45th Streets, and tenants include Viacom, whose global anchor is here, plus the Minskoff Theatre, where “The Lion King” has been roaring there since Disney relocated the hit musical.
If successful, developer SL Green and Caesars Entertainment and could help provide billions of dollars in tax revenue to New York City and New York State.
A rendering of the Caesars Palace Time Square hotel and casino.
Caesars Palace Times Square would likely occupy the lower eight floors of the building, while an 800-key hotel would complement the casino and occupy the floors above. Further, several restaurants and entertainment destinations could be provided by Roc Nation.
“There’s no better partner than Jay-Z and Roc Nation to help Caesars Palace Times Square ensure that Times Square remains a global entertainment hub and an economic engine for New York,” said Marc Holliday, chairman and CEO of SL Green, in a recent statement. “Together, we will bring the nearly 130 million annual pedestrians a stronger and more exciting Times Square to visit, reunifying the bow tie around a new set of innovative programming that will appeal to New Yorkers and tourists.”
The project team for Caesars Palace Times Square indicates the bid — one of two in the running — is supported by a broad coalition of Times Square stakeholders representing construction labor, Broadway labor, restaurants, hotels, small businesses, theater, and local residents. AKRF, a New York City-based engineering and developer consulting firm, projects an annual increase of seven million new visitors, should the casino be approved.
“We have the opportunity to create a destination at the heart of Times Square, the true crossroads of the world,” said Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter. “My partnership with SL Green and Caesars, this coalition, has all the promise and commitment to economic opportunity, growth, and enrichment for the community, and everyone who visits the Empire State.”
“Times Square has been the heartbeat of American Entertainment for over a century,” said Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment. “Through our shared vision, we will build a world-class destination specifically designed to complement and elevate today’s Times Square experience, ensuring it remains a magnet for visitors and a hub of creativity for years to come.”
Not from away in mid-town, another casino option is in the works atop the luxury department store, Saks Fifth Avenue. Hudson’s Bay Company, which owns the Saks brand, said it wants to convert its top three floors into a Monte- Carlo-style gambling house.
The project, starting on the ninth floor of the high-end retailer, will cover about 200,000 square feet. Developer Hudson’s Bay, which owns Saks, plans to devote a new lobby with a separate red-carpet-lined entrance for the casino.
“It will be comparable to the aesthetics and luxury detailing of the Saks Fifth Avenue store,” said Trenesa Danuser, a spokeswoman for Hudson’s Bay, and its Related Companies developer.
Overall attendance and box office grosses on Broadway, while spectacular during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, still have not grown to pre-pandemic levels, and there is considerable anxiety – not necessarily hatred, but concerns — against the Caesars vision about how changes will impact commuting patterns, entertainment consumption and the global economy and how this new blood might affect its long-term health.
The Saks proposal is relatively modest — and this might be a blessing. The redesign of Saks would not involve the demolition of the retailer’s building, and the project could be completed within a year, after permits and licensing are completed.
In Queens, Steve Cohen is considering a casino bid on roughly 50 acres of publicly owned land next to Citi Field, while Thor Equities is eyeing a Coney Island project in Brooklyn. And the Las Vegas Sands has announced plans to seek a casino license on the nearly 80-acre site of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island. …
Imelda revival has isle ties – again
“Here Lies Love,” an award-winning “disco pop” off-Broadway musical about the life and times of Imelda Marcos, is heading to Broadway this summer.
The original piece, with a score by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, starred Ruthie Ann Miles, who portrayed the first lady of the Philippines, in an off-Broadway production at the Public Theatre. She later went on to win a Tony for portraying Lady Thiang, in Lincoln Center’s exquisite revival of “The King and I.”
“Love” again will have island ties, this time with a backstager from Hawaii. Celia Kaleialoha Kenney, daughter of restaurateur Ed Kenney Jr., is one of four Filipino co-producers of the Broadway-bound musical. The other three are Miranda Gohh, Rob Laqui and Giselle “G” Tongi.
A cast has not yet been announced, and the intention is to secure Filipino actors.
The original creative team will return, including Tony-winning director Alex Timbers, choreographer Annie-B Parson and Clint Ramos, a Tony winner who has served as designer and a creative director as well as a producer.
A Filipino creative team is involved this time, with music director J. Oconer Navarro, costume designer Clint Ramos, casting director Gail Quintos , assistant director Billy Bustamante, assistant stage manager Sheryl Polancos and aforementioned producer Töngi also serving as cultural and community liaison.
Previews begin June 12, with the opening set for July 20 at the Broadway Theatre, the only one of five New York theaters actually on Broadway. …
Broadway grosses, week ending Jan. 8
A few surprises made the Top 7 in the weekly listing of Broadway show grosses.
1 –“The Music Man,” with $3.146 million.
2–“The Phantom of the Opera,” with $1.285 million.
3 — “Beetlejuice,” with $2.146 million.
4– “Hamilton,” with $2.120 million.
5 — “Funny Girl,” with $2.062 million.
6 — “The Lion King,” with $1.996 million.
7 — “Wicked,” with $1.962 million.=
The full list, courtesy The Broadway Group:
And that’s Show Biz. …