Fat Joe is a multi-platinum selling-rapper behind hits such as “All the Way Up” and “Lean Back,” but he’s also helped bolster the careers of DJ Khaled, Remy Ma and Big Pun. Now, the businessman is lending his support to Roc Nation as they make their bid to build a casino in the center of Times Square.
As previously reported, Jay-Z and Roc Nation are part of a team interested in opening New York City’s first casino in the old MTV building located at 1515 Broadway.
The Roc, SL Green and Caesars Entertainment, who started their bids in 2022, are going against half a dozen other developers who’ve also submitted proposals.
Award-winning rapper Fat Joe has joined the effort to bring a casino to Times Square.https://t.co/CLs3kqaiXm— PIX11 News (@PIX11News) October 16, 2023
There’s been push back against the bid because many think it will ruin the city and make it less “family friendly.” Earlier this year, representatives from Roc Nation argued nothing could be further from the truth, explaining they would be corporately responsible for bringing $115 million to “diverse theater programs” in its bid to open Caesars Palace Times Square.
Jay-Z’s company also claimed the casino would help mass transit, protect the culture of Broadway and invest in sanitation to clean up the busy area. According to PIX 11, Fat Joe has joined the campaign to help Roc Nation secure the bid by going around Hell’s Kitchen, the residential neighborhood right next to Times Square, to persuade some of the residents to advocate for the Roc.
He told them not only would it benefit the big businesses on 42nd Street but also revitalize the community and bring in hundreds of jobs. He brought free food and flyers that said “It’s Time, Times Square” to Manhattan Plaza, an apartment building on 43rd and 9th.
The Terror Squad leader said if Roc Nation gets the casino option, diversity, equity and inclusion efforts will be in full effect.
“You’ll have Black and Brown leadership,” he promised, adding, “ready to take care of all the arts” and “give hundreds of jobs out in this community”.
He also reminded them that if they don’t support the people of color, the Great White Way will stay the same: “That’s the same people who’ve owned it for 150 years.”
Not everyone appreciated the move nor the casino proposal. Aleta LaFargue, the president of the Tenants’ Association, called the casino a “predatory” move and would “do nothing but harm to our community” per W42st.com. She’s urging for people to not sign up to support it.
“How could you simultaneously invite members of the community and surprise us?” she asked. “This has most definitely been a surprise attack. As you can see, our block is filled up with people with signature clipboards, with little iPads, asking for people to sign, and then handing them flyers that say how they’re going to revitalize your community. When people think of Times Square, they don’t realize that it’s adjacent to a residential area where the people are really in jeopardy of falling prey to the predatory business that a casino is. My family is from Atlantic City, and so I know very well what the methods of casinos are, and they are not to revitalize the communities that surround them.”
But there’s a reason Roc Nation came with dinner and lunch for the residents of the 1,689-apartment complex—it reflects culture and community.
“From our perspective, the most important thing is the opportunity to break bread with people and answer questions,” Roc Nation’s Angela Rye said. “I know that when you have a conversation where people have strong opinions without breaking bread, it gets a lot more contentious and we don’t want that. We want to invite people in to receive feedback, whether it’s positive or negative or indifferent.
“Alicia Keys is a part of the Roc Nation family and she actually grew up in Manhattan Plaza. We’ve learned about this building and the incredible ways in which they’ve built and established a community. It was a place where we knew we had to come.”