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'We are moving ahead' Casino plan is still a go

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 - Updated: 3:17 PM


For the C-S-E

Despite the state's rejection of requests to modify its casino license application, the developers of a Thruway Exit 27 proposal will not be deterred, officials confirmed Saturday.

Clairvest Group Inc. investment broker Peter Marcil said Saturday the developers will submit an application for a gaming license by the June 30 deadline.

"After speaking with local officials and receiving words of encouragement from people in the local community, we have decided to move ahead with the application process," Marcil said.

The decision followed by a day the state Gaming Facility Location Board's denial of a request to modify the application process.

Clairvest Group Inc. representatives originally said last week their plan would not move forward without a 60-day deadline extension, as well as a $25 million deferment to the $50 million licensing fee.

Following the state's decision Friday, the developers were not sure if they were going to proceed. However, Marcil said Clairvest CEO Jeffrey Parr decided to move forward after all.

Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said he was glad the developer has decided to move forward.

"After pleading our case about the need in the community, I am very excited that we are still in the game," Ossenfort said. "We are going to do everything we can as a county to assist them and try to make this happen."

Clairvest Group Inc. is among 19 entities vying for one of four gaming licenses in the Capital District, Catskills and East Southern Tier regions.

The development team is proposing to transform 512 acres straddling the border of the town of Florida and the city of Amsterdam with a $250 million project, which will be built in three phases over two years. It will consist of a casino, hotel, spa, two golf courses, 300 residential units and potential commercial development.

The state Gaming Facility Location Board decided Friday against changing easing the application guidelines for Clairvest after meeting with Montgomery County officials Thursday.

"The requirements spelled out in the Request for Applications establish a level playing field for all potential applicants, including the proposed project in Amsterdam," Gaming Facility Location Board spokesman Lee Park said. "It is simply not feasible or fair to alter any provision of the RFA or make concessions at the request of a bidder.

"To do so would create an unfair bidding process for every other potential bidder and invalidate the RFA," Park continued.

Park said the board formed the RFA components, including the minimum license fee and the application deadline, with the assistance of a Gaming Advisory Services consultant.

"The RFA clearly follows the intent of the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act -- to create an open and competitive process to determine the best possible applicants to provide jobs and revenue to the locality, region and state," he said. "While we cannot honor any applicant's request to make concessions or alterations to the RFA, we do encourage all applicants to move forward with their bids and put their best plans forward."

Ossenfort attended the Thursday meeting with county Economic Development and Planning Director Kenneth Rose, economic development specialist Karl Gustafson, and Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane, who was on hand to show the city's support for the project.

It was two days after the developers' visits to Montgomery County, where they detailed their plans for 512 acres of land straddling the border between the town of Florida and city of Amsterdam.

It was during those meetings, that Parr said he would ask the state to consider the economy of Montgomery County as it did in other regions in the state, and allow him to defer $25 million of the licensing fee. The state would recoup the upfront reduction once the site began generating revenue.

The June 30 deadline, which is a week away, is also presenting a challenge, Parr said, and the group sought a 60-day extension.

In a letter provided to the state during Thursday's meeting, Ossenfort made the deferment and extension requests on behalf of Clairvest, adding that the accommodations should extend to all parties in the capital region.

Ossenfort pointed out that the tax rates on slot and table revenue were set by statute in the state's Gaming Economic Development Act passed in November. The licensing fee and the minimum investment amounts, however, were established by the Gaming Location Facility Board.

In two of the three gaming casino regions -- the Catskills/Hudson Valley region (Region 1) and the Eastern Southern Tier (Region 5) -- licensing fee varies by county. For example, in Region 1, the licensing fee is set at a range of $35 million to $70 million. In Region 5, the licensing fee ranges from $20 million to $50 million. However, in Region 2 -- the Capital Region -- it was set at $50 million.

Ossenfort's letter provided a percentage of how much of the licensing fee represents the total household income in Montgomery County, compared to other counties. Montgomery County is the highest with 5.87 percent, compared to Albany or Rensselaer, where the licensing fee represents .69 percent and 1.33 percent, respectively, of their household incomes.


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