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March 31, 2023

Harlem Restaurateur Melba Wilson Joins Growing Coalition in Support of Times Square Gaming Destination

It is time for Times Square’s comeback

Today, Melba Wilson, the founder and owner of Melba’s Restaurant, announced support for a new gaming and entertainment destination in Times Square. Melba’s, a Harlem institution that has come to be regarded as the premier comfort food destination in New York City, will become the newest member of the Coalition for a Better Times Square.

Ms. Wilson is a longtime advocate for New York’s restaurant and hospitality industry and has deep roots in Harlem’s culinary scene. She is the niece of Sylvia Woods, the founder of Sylvia’s Restaurant of Harlem, and worked at Sylvia’s, Windows on the World, and Rosa Mexicano before opening Melba’s in 2005.

The Coalition for a Better Times Square, which consists of businesses, labor unions, and community organizations across the city, seeks to revitalize Manhattan’s tourism industry through the creation of a new, state-of-the-art gaming facility at 1515 Broadway. A partnership between Caesars Entertainment, Roc Nation, and real estate developer SL Green is leading the bid to secure a gaming license for that site.

“It is time for a Times Square comeback. Times Square is the beating heart of New York’s tourism industry, and its success benefits restaurants and bars across the city,” said Melba Wilson, founder and owner of Melba’s Restaurant. “When Times Square thrives, New York thrives, and a new gaming destination is exactly the boost Manhattan needs.”

“The restaurant industry in Manhattan understands that Times Square needs to continue to grow and evolve in order to thrive. A new entertainment destination at 1515 Broadway would bring enormous benefits to the neighborhood and its local small businesses,” said Brett Herschenfeld, an executive Vice President at SL Green. “Melba’s has a vested interest in the future of NewYork’s restaurant and tourism industries. Melba Wilson agrees that Times Square is the best place for a new gaming and entertainment destination.”

“Melba’s is a fixture of New York’s culinary scene. Melba Wilson’s support for Caesars Palace Times Square is a testament to the building excitement for this project across the tourism and hospitality industry,” said Joseph Tyrell a Senior Vice President at Caesars Entertainment. “At Caesars, we have a strong history of working with partner restaurants and other local businesses across each of our gaming and entertainment locations nationwide, and we’re excited to expand that tradition to Manhattan.”

The proposed gaming facility would attract over 7 million new visits to Times Square and generate $967 million in annual area spending, providing a much-needed boost to area hotels, theaters, restaurants, and businesses; bolstering retail and dining options. The proposal also includes a critical congestion mitigation, improved sanitation strategy and security improvement plan for the Times Square area.

Background on Caesars Palace Times Square

SL Green, Caesars Entertainment and Roc Nation are collaborating on a partnership to redevelop 1515 Broadway as a premiere entertainment and gaming destination in the heart of Times Square. The proposed boutique facility would take up eight floors in the existing 54-story tower and include 250,000 square feet of gaming space alongside 950 hotel rooms and entertainment and restaurant space.

A study conducted by leading traffic and engineering consultant AKRF concluded that the proposal would generate:

  • 7 million+ net new visits to Times Square annually
  • 636,000+ new overnight visits to local hotels
  • 7 million+ new meals for local restaurants
  • $166 million+ new retail spending
  • More than $65 million in new annual Broadway ticket sales, supporting 500 theater district jobs

Working in partnership with former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and Times Square organizations, SL Green and Caesars Palace have also committed to dedicating part of the gaming revenue to added security, sanitation, and traffic investments that will improve the overall quality of life for those in and around Times Square. These include:

  • More than doubling number of current public safety officers to patrol Times Square above and below ground 30% increase to the existing sanitation workforce, including expansion of the Waste Containerization Pilot started in Times Square promoting cleanliness and improved quality of the environment
  • Liaise with and fund local homeless service organizations resulting in increased neighborhood safety
  • Work with area theaters, rideshare operators and yellow cabs to develop a congestion remediation plan – including dedicated pick-up/drop-off zones, and drastically improved wayfinding – that would reduce congestion by up to 50%.

Help build Midtown’s future

Sign up today to add your voice to a growing list of your neighbors who support a premium gaming and entertainment destination in Times Square. Together, we can share a better future for this iconic district.