NYRA to sell land near Aqueduct

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The New York Racing Association is set to auction off 64 lots of property it owns near Aqueduct Race Track in June, the nonprofit said Tuesday.

“The New York Racing Association has been wanting to sell these properties for years,” said NYRA Chief Administrative Officer John Ryan.

State Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D−Rockaway Beach) said the first $1 million generated from the sales will be put toward NYRA’s IRS bill, with the remainder to be set aside for interior capital improvements.

NYRA and the state were involved in a long dispute over who owned the property, which was resolved last year under a franchise agreement that renewed the nonprofit’s control over Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course for another 25 years.

The agreement settled the dispute and authorized NYRA to auction off the property, Ryan said.

David R. Maltz & Co. is scheduled to hold the auction at 1 p.m. May 13 at the Ozone Park Track.

The properties range from 2,000 to 75,000 square feet in an area bounded by the Nassau Expressway and Cohancy Street. The lots are vacant land and can be purchased separately or in bundles, according to

The lots are zoned R−4, meaning they can be developed into single− or two−family detached houses.

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D−Howard Beach) said he would keep a close eye on which companies and individuals are interested in the properties.

“With these properties so closely adjacent to our residents, we’re concerned about who’s buying these properties and for what purpose,” the senator said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

The auction plans were announced as it remained unclear how the process to complete a deal to install and operate the 2,500 video lottery terminals slated for Aqueduct would be conducted.

Morgan Hook, a spokesman for Gov. David Paterson, said the bidding process has not reopened since the state’s VLT deal with Buffalo−based Delaware North fell apart in February.

Delaware North was awarded the VLT contract in November, but the agreement collapsed after the company could not come up with the $370 million upfront payment it had promised the state due to the freeze in the credit markets.

Delaware North faced criticism from Queens elected officials who said the company was their third choice out of the three bidders in part because they believed Delaware North had not established a strong enough relationship with the community.

Two other entities, SL Green and Capital Play, submitted bids.

“I want a company that is going to do the right thing by not only Aqueduct, but for the community,” Addabbo said. “Long after the construction is done, we who live near Aqueduct get to live with this for the rest of our lives.”

Paterson has pushed for VLTs to be installed at Belmont Park on the Nassau−Queens border, although Aqueduct remains a higher priority.

The governor also envisions a redevelopment at the Elmont, L.I., track that would make way for a hotel or convention center — plans similar to those for Aqueduct.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

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