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“I have withdrawn the current zoning legislation, allowing the community working group time to organize and develop a plan for the site,” Councilman Henon wrote online.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