Former southern Brooklyn council member Domenic Recchia has joined the Thor Equities team in its bid to open a Coney Island casino.
Recchia, who represented the 47th District — which includes Bensonhurst, Brighton Beach, Coney Island, and Gravesend from 2002 until 2013 — said he believes the gaming center and hotel can be the catalyst for economic growth in the peninsula. His hiring was first reported by Crain’s New York Business.
The Thor Equities team is prioritizing neighborhood safety, youth development and job opportunities in their proposal, according to Recchia. Their plans include a potential partnership with NYPD and the DOE to provide youth apprenticeship programs.
“This is just the beginning of what we’re going to do for the Coney Island community and for the surrounding communities. But most of all, it’s gonna put jobs opportunities and we’re gonna make the neighborhood safe,” Recchia said.
During his tenure as a council member, the former politician said he always wanted to introduce an entertainment center or hotel to the area. In 2009, he played an instrumental role in getting the district rezoned. With his help, the area is currently zoned as a “year-round amusement, entertainment and hotel district.” Recchia will serve as a an attorney and consultant on the project, he told Crain’s New York Business
“We have the opportunity to redevelop Coney Island. That was always my dream, my vision as a council man,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “One of the biggest projects that I always wanted in order for Coney Island to be a year round destination — it needed a hotel, they needed attraction.”
Casino team gains support
On Aug. 14, Thor Equities’ announced they gathered more than 10,000 signatures on a pro-casino petition from Brooklyn residents.
The petition urges the building of a gaming industry, stating “as a Southern Brooklyn resident, you support creating jobs and new economic growth by establishing a new casino and entertainment district in Coney Island.”
Robert Cornegy, a former council member who represented parts of central Brooklyn who has since joined the pro-casino team, said they have been prioritizing this grassroots engagement since they began their bid by going to NYCHA communities, canvassing stores, restaurants and other places of business.
“We’ve seen a real groundswell of support for The Coney because Coney Island and South Brooklyn residents know that year-round good paying jobs, better public safety, investments in our students and more economic opportunities are good for this community,” he said in a statement.
According to Michael DeLoach, another casino partner, 98% of the signatures come from southern Brooklynites while the rest derive from Brooklynites in northern neighborhoods.
“We think that is a big win for the borough and for Brooklyn so we’re happy to have support from anyone and everyone in the borough but obviously we want to demonstrate local support,” DeLoach told Brooklyn Paper. “There’s nay-sayers but we wanted to be able to counter that by showing a significant amount of support from people that live and work in the area.”
People were encouraged to leave their address and contact information with their signatures so the bid team could do quality control and weed out invalid endorsements.
Recchia said he is aware there are community concerns regarding safety, traffic and over pollution that still need to be worked out however the team is committed to speaking with locals and addressing each issue.
“People are seeing what we’re doing in the community and that we really care,” he said. “I think that’s one thing that’s gonna come out — that we’re here and we care.”