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Three proposals are odds-on favorites for Philadelphia’s casino

10/24/2013 | Real Estate Blog

After protesters were escorted out of a recent Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board hearing, it became clear that the Philadelphia casino debate is not quite over, though the volume has been turned down. City officials were at the hearing to discuss the pros and cons of the six proposals for the project when a group of people started to chant “No casino! No casino, no matter what!” They carried signs that said “Addiction,” “Crime” and “Poverty.”

The developers were not all pleased with the presentation, either. The city seems to favor three proposals, two of which would be in Center City. The Market8 would be on the 800 block of Market Street, a trouble spot for decades, while the Provence would be on Broad Street, in the old Inquirer building.

A representative from the mayor’s office was particularly taken with the idea of rejuvenating downtown by attracting a new crowd and stimulating development — all without drawing business from other casinos. Gaming and non-gaming revenue projections for the Provence put it ahead of the other proposals; the idea of cleaning up Market Street had its own advantages, though.

The city also likes the proposal from Wyn PA, Inc. The site is on North Delaware Avenue, and the project could be key to redeveloping the Delaware River waterfront area. The Wyn brand is known for high-end luxury resorts and casinos. The one caveat, the mayor’s representative said, was that this casino may not be the right fit for Philadelphia.

The other proposals are workable as well, but each has a drawback as far as the city is concerned. Traffic management was cited as a concern for two of them; the third, the city said, would be in a more isolated location and may not appeal to the new audience the city hopes to attract.

When the developers themselves addressed the board, their comments mostly refuted any concerns the city had expressed. If the city is concerned about non-gaming revenue at Market8, for example, the developer explained that the casino would draw people from and to the galleries of Old City and Chinatown.

Only one proposal can win the bid. No date has been set for the decision.

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, “Philadelphia: Downtown casinos would spur economic growth,” Peter Van Allen, Sept. 24, 2013