Following Casino Gambling Approval, The Clock Starts Ticking Fast... Now
ELLENVILLE – Following passage of the statewide vote in favor of casino gambling, Michael Treanor and his crew celebrated quietly at their headquarters in downtown Ellenville... but only after the voting margins were secure.
The next morning at 10 a.m., the frontsman for an investment group looking to restore the Nevele Resort to new glories held an online news conference... and spoke about having passed the first four of the "bullet points" he outlined for the project.
In other words, a plan has been formed, support from the community has been raised, legislation to legalize gambling has been passed and now a referendum on the issue has concluded with a positive vote.
"In the next few weeks I will be in New York City meeting with bankers and lawyers to complete the capital structure for the project," Treanor said. "I will also be identifying an operator for the casino."
Beyond that, he added, he will be putting together parts of the professional team to complete the environmental impact study for what's been planned, and passed an environmental scoping session without any opposition, or comment, over 18 months ago.
"We want to have the most robust plan we can possibly have," Treanor said, noting that, "There are other proposals for casinos in the Catskills region. It will be extremely competitive to get the license we seek, but we are very focused on putting together a winning plan for that. And then we will rebuild the Nevele as the crown jewel that it was and bring back the visitors from New York and elsewhere."
Asked about where that competition might come from, Treanor said, "I don't know exactly; the only competition I'm aware of is in Sullivan County, but I expect others to come out now the proposition has passed."
As for what company might operate the casino, he said, "We know that the two biggest firms in this industry have said the Catskill-Hudson Valley region is not robust enough for them. But there are half a dozen others who have expressed interest."
The price tag, which Treanor noted "always goes up," is now $470 million, plus a $50 million upfront licensing fee to be paid to New York State. "That is the minimum payment for the license for a casino in the Hudson Valley-Catskills region," he noted. "Once you've paid that you have 24 months to complete your facility or lose that $50 million."
Asked about the eventuality of casinos in New York City itself, Treanor was circumspect.
"We have a seven year head start on any casino license in the city," he said. "I've spent a lot of time in the city in the last month and a half and I have found there is real resistance there to having a full-blown casino. There is not the support down there as there is here in Ulster County or Sullivan County. I also think we're looking for a different kind of customer than would be interested in a city casino."
Treanor exulted in that local support.
"Ulster came in at the mid-60s, Sullivan and Orange were quite high as well. You're looking at incredibly strong local support," he noted. "We have had unanimous resolutions of support from the towns in the county, and not a single politician that represents the Nevele area has come out against it."