Northeast Times

Wynn’s Fishtown casino project presented to Port Richmond

Neigh­bors gathered at Thursday’s meet­ing with rep­res­ent­at­ives from Wynn’s casino pro­pos­al for Fishtown. They wanted an­swers about how the pro­ject might af­fect or be­ne­fit Port Rich­mond. SAM NE­W­HOUSE / STAR PHOTO

Rep­res­ent­at­ives from the casino mogul’s pro­ject prom­ised jobs, green space and a com­munity be­ne­fits agree­ment sim­il­ar to Sug­ar­House’s Penn Treaty Spe­cial Ser­vices Dis­trict.

On Thursday night, a team rep­res­ent­ing Las Ve­gas casino and hotel mogul Steve Wynn met with River Wards res­id­ents at a pub­lic meet­ing of the Port Rich­mond Com­munity Group.

More than 40 neigh­bors liv­ing near the un­used Delaware river­front lot where Wynn has pro­posed build­ing a 19-story hotel and casino asked their most ur­gent ques­tions, which fo­cused on com­munity be­ne­fits, loc­al em­ploy­ment, and park space along­side the casino.

“It’s a huge op­por­tun­ity to cre­ate jobs,” said Ter­rence McK­enna, ex­ec­ut­ive vice pres­id­ent of Keat­ing Con­sult­ing, LLC, who led the present­a­tion.

McK­enna said the pro­ject will cre­ate 3,600 con­struc­tion jobs, which he said would go to loc­al uni­on laborers. Doc­u­ments sup­plied by Wynn Re­sorts state that 2,200 per­man­ent jobs are ex­pec­ted to be cre­ated at the per­man­ent site, with an­oth­er 1,100 in­dir­ect sup­pli­er jobs.

Wynn is one of six de­velopers con­tend­ing for the second casino li­cense in Phil­adelphia. The Pennsylvania Gam­ing Con­trol Board is ex­pec­ted to make its de­cision on which de­veloper will be ap­proved with­in sev­er­al months.

Theresa Cos­tello and Dot Jac­ob, who lead PRCG, in­vited Wynn Re­sorts to present to the com­munity. Cos­tello poin­ted out that the pro­ject’s loc­a­tion is near the Port Rich­mond Thrift­way Mar­ket, 2497 Ara­mingo Ave., and that it could ar­gu­ably be called part of Port Rich­mond.

The Wynn pro­ject would fill 70 acres along Rich­mond Street from Schirra Drive to Columbia Av­en­ue. The Port Rich­mond Thrift­way Mar­ket is about a half mile away from the Schirra Drive edge of the pro­posed casino loc­a­tion.

“Group­ing these two casi­nos to­geth­er is bet­ter than hav­ing them on sep­ar­ate sides of town,” McK­enna said.

McK­enna also said that the site, which amounts to about 60 to 70 acres, will have 30 to 35 acres de­voted to the hotel casino, with the rest for a “spec­tac­u­lar land­scaped park that neigh­bors can use.”

“This prop­erty has been closed off to the pub­lic since 1825,” McK­enna said. “Wynn Re­sorts will open it up.”

Neigh­bors asked dir­ectly wheth­er Wynn Re­sorts would enter in­to a com­munity be­ne­fits agree­ment, sim­il­ar to the Penn Treaty Spe­cial Ser­vices Dis­trict ar­range­ment with Sug­ar­House Casino.

Sug­ar­House funds the PTSSD, a group that since Janu­ary 2010 has re­ceived three an­nu­al pay­ments total­ing $1,175,000 from the casino to dis­burse to loc­al pro­grams and pro­jects in neigh­bor­hoods with­in its bound­ar­ies — Fishtown, North­ern Liber­ties, South Kens­ing­ton and Old Rich­mond.

McK­enna said that Wynn would enter in­to some com­munity be­ne­fit ar­range­ment, al­though the ex­act nature of that ar­range­ment is not cer­tain.

“Wynn un­der­stands that whole premise and we’re very sup­port­ive of it, if that’s the mod­el the com­munity wants to use,” McK­enna said.

McK­enna also poin­ted out that Wynn’s pro­jec­ted $900 mil­lion budget, coupled with the Pennsylvania De­part­ment of Trans­port­a­tion’s $1 bil­lion budget to im­prove the I-95 high­way, adds up to $2 bil­lion in im­prove­ments slated for I-95 ac­cess near the loc­a­tion.

The cur­rent design is “not im­pact­ing any of those neigh­bor­hoods to the north or to the west,” McK­enna said.

State Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.) at­ten­ded the hear­ing and spoke briefly to at­tendees, say­ing he is “ex­cited” by Wynn’s pro­pos­al.

“If this was a pro­pos­al six-sev­en years ago, you would be skep­tic­al, I would be skep­tic­al, we would look at it with a mi­cro­scope,” Rep. Taylor said. “The dif­fer­ence from 2006 … to 2013 is we have a ter­ribly dire need for jobs.”

Taylor also said that pre­dic­tions of “ter­rible things that would hap­pen in Port Rich­mond” dur­ing the Sug­ar­House con­struc­tion nev­er ma­ter­i­al­ized.

The Pennsylvania Gam­ing Con­trol Board has ma­ter­i­als from the Wynn Phil­adelphia ap­plic­a­tion and video of Wynn’s Feb­ru­ary present­a­tion avail­able to the pub­lic.

For more in­form­a­tion on Wynn Phil­adelphia and oth­er pro­posed casi­nos for Phil­adelphia, vis­it gam­ing­con­trol­board.pa.gov.

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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