Neighborhood news in brief

Fishtown gives Wynn the thumbs-up; Coun­cil­man Hen­on re­tracts Cokie rezon­ing bill in Brides­burg and Sug­ar­House settles il­leg­al dump­ing claim while plan­ning for ex­pan­sion.

Fishtown gives Wynn the thumbs-up, Wynn hosts job fair

At a Fishtown Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation-meet­ing on April 8, 173 Fishtown res­id­ents voted in fa­vor of the pro­posed Wynn Phil­adelphia casino and re­sort in Fishtown. Fifty five neigh­bors voted in op­pos­i­tion.

Neigh­bors’ reas­ons for sup­port­ing Wynn Phil­adelphia in­cluded the re­vital­iz­a­tion of a long-un­used site, the pro­spect of con­struc­tion jobs and per­man­ent jobs, and sup­port for a planned 22-acre park and River Walk which would be open to the pub­lic.

Earli­er this month, the de­veloper  hos­ted a vendor fair at the Penn’s Land­ing Hy­att, where con­tract­ors and sub­con­tract­ors in­ter­ested in work­ing on thep­ro­ject lined up to meet one an­oth­er.

“You don’t simply do a 900-mil­lion-dol­lar pro­ject at the sound of the gun,” said Daniel J. Keat­ing, chief ex­ec­ut­ive of­ficer of Keat­ing Con­sult­ing, LCC.

Keat­ing said that the vendor fair is not pre­ma­ture.

“We feel the con­struc­tion com­munity needs to be in­formed now, rather than down the road,” said Ter­rence McK­enna, ex­ec­ut­ive vice pres­id­ent of Keat­ing Con­sult­ing.

If se­lec­ted by the Pennsylvania Gam­ing Con­trol Board in com­ing months, Wynn Phil­adelphia is pre­dicted to bring 6,000 jobs to the area, 3,200 as full-time em­ploy­ment jobs.

The pro­ject has been ad­vert­ised as a eco­nom­ic boost­er to Fishtown, Kens­ing­ton, and Port Rich­mond.

About 200 people at­ten­ded the vendor fair, rep­res­ent­ing 130 dif­fer­ent busi­nesses. The fair was tar­geted at minor­ity and wo­man-owned busi­nesses, but all were wel­come. ••

Coun­cil­man Hen­on re­tracts Brides­burg Coke site rezon­ing bill

Last Thursday, City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on (D-6th dist.) pos­ted a mes­sage on his blog stat­ing that he will re­tract a con­tro­ver­sial zon­ing bill for the 60-acre former site of the Phil­adelphia Coke Fact­ory in Brides­burg.

“I have with­drawn the cur­rent zon­ing le­gis­la­tion, al­low­ing the com­munity work­ing group time to or­gan­ize and de­vel­op a plan for the site,” Coun­cil­man Hen­on wrote on­line.

Many Brides­burg res­id­ents were op­posed to Hen­on’s bill #121035, for the land known as the “Coke (or ‘Cokies’) site,” which lies between Bucki­us and Or­tho­dox streets and stretches from Rich­mond and Garden streets to the Delaware River, to be rezoned for use by a new in­dus­tri­al ten­ant.

The former in­dus­tri­al land was rezoned by the City Coun­cil to res­id­en­tial zon­ing in 2005 for a pro­posed hous­ing de­vel­op­ment, which was can­celled in 2008. Many Brides­burg neigh­bors still sup­port res­id­en­tial or pub­lic, green-space uses for the site.

Hen­on or­gan­ized a com­munity work­ing group to gath­er in­put from neigh­bors over their vis­ion for the va­cant Coke site. The com­munity has since cre­ated their own work­ing group, led by Brides­burg res­id­ent Mike Orsini.

Hen­on’s state­ment says that in com­ing months he will con­tin­ue to dis­cuss the site of the former Coke site with vari­ous city agen­cies and the own­er of the va­cant land, Na­tion­al Grid, a New Eng­land-based en­ergy com­pany.

“I want to re­it­er­ate my strong be­lief that the zon­ing of the Coke site needs to be changed,” Hen­on wrote. “It is my pledge to you that I will not al­low a dirty, dan­ger­ous in­dus­tri­al com­pany to move onto that site.  But it is im­port­ant to keep in mind that va­cant lots like the Coke site are a mag­net for blight, crime and lit­ter.” ••

Sug­ar­House to pay $650K over il­leg­al dump­ing, sub­mits ex­pan­sion plans

The Phil­adelphia In­quirer re­por­ted Monday that the own­ers of the Sug­ar­House Casino have agreed to pay $650,000 to settle claims that their work­ers il­leg­ally dumped con­struc­tion ma­ter­i­als in­to the Delaware River.

Pro­sec­utors said work­ers at the site of the Delaware Av­en­ue casino were spot­ted dump­ing ma­ter­i­als in­to the river on more than a dozen oc­ca­sions in 2009 and 2010 without the prop­er per­mits to do so.

Un­der the set­tle­ment, an­nounced by U.S. At­tor­ney Zane D. Memeger, Sug­ar­House HSP Gam­ing will pay a $25,000 civil pen­alty and donate $625,000 to the Brandy­wine Con­servancy, a non­profit agency ded­ic­ated to pro­tect­ing nat­ur­al re­sources.

Mean­while, Sug­ar­House quietly sub­mit­ted plans for a $540 mil­lion ex­pan­sion of the casino last week, ac­cord­ing to Wendy Hamilton, Sug­ar­House Casino’s gen­er­al man­ager.

Ori­gin­ally slated for sum­mer 2012, the planned ex­pan­sion of Sug­ar­House was in­ter­rup­ted by a law­suit amongst the part­ners that own the casino, re­portedly over who would de­term­ine the nature of the ex­pan­sion plans.

The concept for the ex­pan­sion so far in­cludes in­creased gam­ing space, a 35-table poker room, a ban­quet and event space, two high-end res­taur­ants as well as four oth­er food-and-drink of­fer­ings, a bike trail on the Delaware River, and a sev­en-story park­ing gar­age.

“Sug­ar­House as it stands today is not what the ori­gin­al plan was,” Hamilton said. “It was four to five years from the time the prop­erty was li­censed un­til the doors were opened, and a lot of things happened in the fin­an­cial mar­kets in that time.”

“I’ll be the first to ad­mit that if you’re not a slots or table-game play­er, there’s no reas­on to come to Sug­ar­House today.”

On April 10,  at Penn Treaty Spe­cial Ser­vices Dis­trict, third floor, 1080 N. Delaware Ave., Sug­ar­House held a job fair for res­id­ents of North­ern Liber­ties, Fishtown, Kens­ing­ton and Port Rich­mond.

The ex­pan­ded pro­ject is ex­pec­ted to bring Sug­ar­House’s total em­ploy­ment up 500 jobs, to 1,500 per­man­ent jobs.

Sug­ar­House has held to their prom­ises of hir­ing loc­ally. With a cur­rent staff of about 1,000, there’s con­stant turnover, Hamilton said, and hir­ing is lis­ted on their site for 17 po­s­i­tions.

Once this phase of ex­pan­sion is com­pleted, Sug­ar­House will be con­trac­tu­ally re­quired to in­crease their fund­ing to the Penn Treaty Spe­cial Ser­vices Dis­trict (PTSSD) from $500,000 a year to $1 mil­lion a year, said Penn Treaty Spe­cial Ser­vices Dis­trict board mem­ber Rich Lev­ins. PTSSD dis­trib­utes those funds to com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tions and grant ap­plic­ants with­in the ZIP codes 19123, 19125 and 19134.

PTSSD cur­rently funds about 30 grant re­quests and 20 schol­ar­ships a year, Lev­ins said, in­clud­ing some an­nu­al events such as con­certs in Penn Treaty Park.

The Pennsylvania Gam­ing Con­trol Board will hold a hear­ing on the Sug­ar­House ex­pan­sion in May. ••

-Briefs by Sam Ne­w­house

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