Northeast Times

Locals react to proposed Fishtown mega casino

Gam­ing mag­nate Steve Wynn would con­struct Wynn Phil­adelphia if gran­ted the city’s second casino li­cense.

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 sne­w­house@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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