Developers Push to Open Casinos in Manhattan, and Other News

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Seneca Niagara Casino in New York

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Cash-strapped developers are pushing for permits to open profitable casinos in Manhattan.

Real estate developers are reviving interest in a long-shelved proposal: open casinos in New York City. They’ve been trying to capitalize on the dense, tourist-rich market of midtown Manhattan for decades, but have been traditionally shut down by state lawmakers and governor Andrew Cuomo. But as the state is seeking additional sources of revenue amid a $15 billion shortfall, lawmakers are reconsidering their stance. The latest proposals highlight the fragility of the commercial real estate market, where there’s vast uncertainty about how to reuse office buildings as workers have adapted to working from home during the pandemic. Vornado Realty Trust, for example, is pitching the idea of a casino on an expansive site near Manhattan’s Herald Square, while L&L Holding Company has proposed a casino for a $2.5 billion, 46-floor mixed-use tower it’s building near Times Square that includes a 669-room hotel. For now, the most feasible option is likely for the two downstate “racinos”—Genting’s Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens and MGM Resorts’ Empire City Casino in Yonkers—to update to full casino licenses. 

In France, Origine Non Animale becomes the first vegan restaurant to earn a Michelin Star. 

Animal lovers rejoice: ONA—an acronym for Origine Non Animale—located in the southwestern village Ares, near Bordeaux, is the first vegan establishment to earn a Michelin star. Serving a strictly animal-free menu, the eatery lovingly run by self-taught chef and former archaeologist Claire Vallée was established in 2016 piggybacking a successful crowdfunding campaign and small loan from a green bank. That made the recognition all-the-more sweet: “It felt like I got hit by a train,” said Vallée in response to winning the classic star in addition to the green star, a new introduction to recognize establishments with strong ethical values. ONA delights vegans with a seven course meal for $72, specializing in yellow zucchini ravioli with black truffle gnocchi and a Swiss chard ballotine with vegetable ricotta.

Art Basel delays its marquee Swiss fair until September, citing global travel restrictions.

As the pandemic continues to disrupt the social calendar, Art Basel announced it would delay its marquee Swiss fair from June to late September. The fair’s leadership said that delaying the in-person gathering would let more attendees get vaccinated—a move that may potentially increase the amount of international participants. “While the first phase of Covid-19 vaccination programs started in many parts of the world last month, 2021 is a year in which planning remains complex due to many uncertainties,” Marc Spiegler, Art Basel’s global director, said in a statement. “By moving our Basel fair to September, we hope to offer our galleries greater possibility for successfully preparing their year.” As part of the announcement, Art Basel said it would host three thematic online viewing rooms in March, June, and November. 

The Line, a linear city concept in Saudi Arabia

Is Saudi Arabia’s linear city based on a concept by a radical Italian architecture collective?

Is Saudi Arabia’s recently announced linear city inspired by a radical Italian architecture collective from the 1960s? A new piece in The Guardian points out the striking parallels. Superstudio conceived the Continuous Monument concept in 1969 as a warning against widespread urbanization, depicting in a series of collages a vast block of mass encircling the globe—a symbol of unrelenting development. In other words, a never-ending office block that cuts across plains, mountains, and oceans. The “negative utopia” was a commentary against expanding suburbia and a repudiation of consumerism that Superstudio predicted would lead to social and ecological crisis. It was a full-throated case against the grid philosophy.  

David Chipperfield Architects unveils a restoration of Belgium’s landmark Grand Hotel. 

David Chipperfield Architects unveiled a plan to revive Belgium’s landmark Grand Hotel in the resort enclave of Nieuwpoort and convert it into a residential building. Originally designed by architect Apollon Lagache in 1924, the property fell into disrepair during wartime and as the city grew. Chipperfield’s design will restore the entrance and retain the original facade, reinterpret lost elements such as the tower and domes, and introduce a four-floor addition that “seeks to restore the building’s grandeur.” The project is slated for completion by 2024. 

The AIA commends President Biden’s swift decision to rejoin the Paris Agreement.

President Joe Biden, who was just sworn in on Wednesday, spent his first afternoon in the Oval Office signing executive orders reinstating environmental regulations that were reversed under the Trump administration. The president recommited the United States to the Paris Agreement, an international agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change, which was originally adopted by the Obama administration in 2015 and withdrawn just two years later by Trump. “Re-establishing the United States’ commitment to the Paris climate accord sends a strong message to our nation and the world that we will pursue meaningful changes that can save our planet,” said AIA President Peter Exley. “As architects, we stand ready to play a significant role in achieving climate goals for the built environment and to working with the Administration and Congress toward that end.”

46th Street station in Manhattan

Today’s attractive distractions:

The Simpsons may have predicted Kamala Harris’s inauguration outfit

Artists create original works on vintage envelopes for a new exhibition.

This subway station has been transformed into an homage to Joe Biden…

…while his Peloton bike has been causing problems in the White House.

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