Would Wynn build the exact same casino in both cities, if he is granted the chance to build at all?
River Wards residents have heard a lot in recent months about Steve Wynn’s proposed casino and hotel resort on the Delaware River, currently one of six projects vying for the city’s second casino license.
At the same time Wynn’s been making his case for a casino in Philadelphia, though, he’s been marketing a very similar proposal to the city of Boston.
In Everett, a town just outside Boston, Wynn proposed in December to build a 19-story hotel and casino on the banks of Boston’s Mystic River, on a 37-acre former industrial site. The proposed budget in Everett is $1.2 billion.
Wynn filed his application in Philadelphia in November 2012 for the proposed $900 million Wynn Philadelphia.
The hotels have a strikingly similar design, based on renderings released to media in Philadelphia and Boston – down to the details of the River Walk on each site’s respective riverfront.
“Mr. Wynn is at the design table every step of the way,” responded Gamal Aziz, COO and president of Wynn Resorts, at last week’s Pennsylvania Gaming Congress. “This is a design that we have had a lot of success with.”
When asked if it was realistic for Wynn to build two similar casinos on the East coast seven hours apart, Aziz responded, “Very much so … We can definitely execute on both properties.”
“We would have absolutely no problem obtaining the funding to do these jobs, no problem at all,” Aziz continued.
Part of Wynn’s promise in Philadelphia was to create the nicest hotel on the East Coast. Aziz said building a similar resort-casino in Boston would not affect the Philadelphia project.
“They’re not too close in proximity to detract from each other. They’re both great sites,” Aziz said.
Aziz stated that many hospitality companies work on numerous properties simultaneously.
It’s not guaranteed that Wynn will build either in Boston or Philadelphia.
Wynn is competing with Caesar’s and Foxwoods for a single casino license available to the Boston metropolitan area. Under Massachusetts law, the residents of Everett, the town where Wynn’s proposal is sited, must vote in a referendum to endorse Wynn’s project before it can receive the casino license.
“This type of development, if done properly, could generate huge economic expansion and security for our community,” stated Everett mayor Carlo DeMaria, after learning of Wynn’s interest in the Everett site.
DeMaria has since appeared at press conferences with Wynn and Aziz. He and Wynn also participated in a recent conference call where Everett residents could phone in their questions about the proposed casino project.
Here in Philadelphia, Wynn faces competition from five other applicants to for the casino license.
At the Pennsylvania Gaming Congress, which included talks by all six applicants, Robert Borghese of PHL Gaming Local, which is behind the proposed Casino Revolution in South Philly, criticized the media for focusing most of their attention on Wynn’s proposal.
“Doesn’t Philadelphia deserve our own unique casino that … doesn’t look like casinos in Las Vegas and Boston?” Borghese asked attendees.
Without naming names, he stated that such projects have “absentee corporate owners” who are “comfortably ensconced” in their offices and have displayed “fickleness and antipathy towards Philadelphia.”
Bart Blatstein, of Tower Developments, which has proposed to build the Provence casino in the old Philadelphia Inquirer building at 400 N. Broad St., said that Wynn’s proposed site – bordering Fishtown, Olde Richmond, and Port Richmond – is “in the middle of nowhere.”
Blatstein is best known in the River Wards for developing The Piazza at Schmidt’s, at 2nd Street and Germantown Avenue in Northern Liberties, just a mile west of Wynn’s proposed site.
“There’s no people there, east, north or south of it [Wynn’s site]. You can’t get there except by driving. It’s in the middle of nowhere. It’s not going to do anything,” Blatstein said.
Reporter Sam Newhouse can be reached at 215-354-3124 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.