Some Fishtown residents’ feathers were left ruffled after Las Vegas hotel and casino magnate Steve Wynn proposed that the city grant his company Philadelphia’s second casino license— in Fishtown.
“The FACT board does not support another casino in Fishtown,” said FACT (Fishtown Action) president Maggie O’Brien. “As a matter of fact, we do not support another casino in Philadelphia.”
Philadelphia’s first casino license was granted to Fishtown’s SugarHouse Casino in 2006. It opened in 2010.
Wynn Resorts, Ltd., of which Wynn is chairman and CEO, recently submitted its plans for Wynn Philadelphia to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The deadline to submit plans was Nov. 15.
The proposed 150,000-square-foot hotel and casino would be located just up the Delaware River from SugarHouse Casino, also in Fishtown.
“Our assignment is to build a facility that brings people from outside the city into the city,” Wynn wrote in his proposal to the gaming board. “We hope to create a resort of a caliber not currently in existence on the eastern seaboard.”
Wynn, who did not respond to request for comment by press time, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the waterfront location is “delicious.”
The proposed casino would occupy 60 acres with a 300-room hotel, as well as a casino with 2,500 slot machines and 100 game tables.
Wynn Resorts also stated it had filed a required environmental impact report with Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration.
The proposed land parcel is a fairly blighted piece of mostly unused waterfront along North Beach Street, between Cumberland and Palmer streets. It is separated from Sugarhouse Casino by Penn Treaty Park and the Exelon Delaware Generating Station, an oil power plant. The land is owned by New Hope builder James Anderson.
A.J. Thompson, president of the Friends of Penn Treaty Park board of directors, said the board does not yet have a reaction to Wynn’s application. “The casino proposal is barely an embryo,” Thompson wrote in an email message.
Other comments from locals on the very active Fishtown.us community message board have varied, and include: “Just what the riverfront needs, more casinos! NOT,” and, “Let him build it and bring in some tax revenue,” as well as, “I really do not understand the instant NIMBY [‘not in my backyard’] reaction from most of you. Your fears when SugarHouse was proposed have not materialized.”
Wynn has said that the proximity to a competing casino would be a good thing, because it would give people more gambling options.
Such a project might help provide jobs to local residents, as many have said SugarHouse has done. River Wards residents and other Philadelphians employed by SugarHouse have spoken positively of the casino to Star.
Bob Muckleston, 31, of Kensington, was optimistic about his employment situation after having been hired by SugarHouse as a chef when he spoke to Star on Election Day.
Charles Strange, a dealer at SugarHouse — whose son, Navy cryptologist technician Michael J. Strange, died in action in 2011 — said that the casino was supportive and understanding of his need for days off to cope with his grief.
SugarHouse has also offered a site on its land to erect a monument to Strange’s son and the other Americans who died in the same helicopter crash on August 6, 2011 in Afghanistan.
There are four other proposals for the city’s second casino license, one of which will be selected by the state gaming board after hearings are held and extensive applications and reports are reviewed. The process could take months.
For a project to be granted a license, it must receive the votes of five of the seven commissioners. It’s possible that no project will receive the necessary votes.
Wynn’s company currently operates two other combination casino-hotels, Wynn Las Vegas and Wynn Macau in China.
Reporter Sam Newhouse can be reached at 215-354-3124 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.