NYC’s Only Casino Sets Pace at Historic Raceway

Nov, 2012

By C.J. Hughes ENR New York

Resorts World in Queens, New York City’s first and only casino, is a 763,000-sq-ft redevelopment of the historic Aqueduct Raceway that was built in 1894 and where such champions as Secretariat and Man O’ War raced. The casino work was part of a multiphased construction project, which media reports peg at around $510 million, and a revitalization effort.

Besides the casino, the project included extensive sitework on 64 acres; a five-story, 2,365-space parking garage with a bus drop-off area and lobby; and a 7,200-sq-ft climate-controlled bridge linking Aqueduct’s subway station on the A line to the AirTrain serving JFK Airport.

It also included installation of a security system to track millions of dollars. The total project included renovations and new construction totaling about 736,000 sq ft.

Front and center, however, is the four-story casino with vaulted ceilings, a 60-ft-tall chandelier and 5,000 video slot machines, as well as a food court, event center and offices.

“A monumental construction task was to coordinate up to 2,000 New York craftspeople working three shifts, seven days a week,” says general contractor Tutor Perini Corp. “During racing season, additional scheduling was required to work around the horses and racing schedules.”

The casino also abuts the raceway’s grandstand, which was refurbished but reduced in size; columns were preserved, but new prefab sections were installed on the exterior. Teams also scrubbed lead paint and pigeon droppings from the older sections, with most work being done in the winter, before the start of racing season.

“The scope of the project seemed to change almost daily due to existing building conditions that required design modifications for one reason or another,” says John Hill, project executive at Keating Building Co., a TPC subsidiary. “One of the most significant changes in the middle of construction was to expand the casino’s footprint while reducing the existing grandstand. Any changes to an already tight schedule had a domino effect on scheduling vendors, suppliers, manufactures and, of course, the subcontractors.” However, he adds, the project team recognized the historical impact of its work and adjusted schedules to accommodate owner requirements.

“This was built in a phenomenally short amount of time when you look at what actually got done,” says one ENR New York judge.

There are social accomplishments, too. The casino, which draws 50,000 daily visitors, says it contributes $350 million in state tax revenue for schools and $119 million for state racing operations. In fact, Genting Group, the developer and a global casino company, says that Aqueduct pays more in taxes than all 41 Las Vegas casinos combined.

Resorts World Casino New York City, Queens, N.Y.

Key Players

Owner/Developer: Genting Group

Owner’s Representative: D’Amato Builders + Advisors

General Contractor: Tutor Perini Corp.

Lead Designer: JCJ Architecture

Structural Engineer: DeSimone Consulting Engineers

Civil Engineer: Gedeon GRC Consulting