Former Fortunoff store now frontrunner for Nassau casino
By: David Winzelberg December 11, 2014 17 Comments
After considering several Westbury-area properties, Nassau County Off-Track Betting has picked the long-vacant Fortunoff department store building on Old Country Road for its video slots parlor, according to real estate industry sources.
OTB officials kicked the tires on a handful of properties submitted to the agency in response to a casino-site request for proposals, including Merrick Avenue sites reported by LIBN Tuesday and others nearby.
Nassau OTB also eyed its Race Palace in Plainview as a possible casino site, but dropped those plans after stiff community opposition and revelations that the building’s physical structure was inadequate to hold the 500 gaming machines targeted for the second floor. The planned gaming facility is slated to have 1,000 video slot machines.
Now the former Fortunoff has emerged as the likely site. The 208,000-square-foot department store, which opened in 1964, has been vacant since Fortunoff closed in 2009. It was the one-time anchor for The Mall at the Source, which opened in 1997, and shares a three-story parking garage with the mall – seen as a major plus by casino planners.
The two properties, which were foreclosed on in 2013, are owned by separate lenders. U.S. Bank is listed as the mortgage holder for the department store property, according to court documents, which puts the current debt on the property at around $60 million.
Lender CMAT holds the note on The Mall at the Source property, which is mostly vacant but still retains entertainment/restaurant tenants The Cheesecake Factory and David & Buster’s and a handful of retail stores.
An OTB spokesman said Monday “no decision has been made as to the site” for the slots parlor. Nassau OTB unanimously passed an “official intent resolution” Monday authorizing the agency to do prep work in advance of adopting a bond resolution to fund the acquisition and development of a casino site, the OTB spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Suffolk OTB is scheduled to break ground in February on its video slot casino on a 31-acre former multiplex movie theater site in Medford, which is also slated to open late in 2015.