At 2:04 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 11, Wynn Resorts released the following statement to news media:
“The Wynn Resorts Board of Directors recently met to carefully examine the feasibility and opportunities associated with the company’s domestic development in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At this time, the Board has decided that the best course for the company is to pursue business opportunities elsewhere.”
“The board took a host of factors into consideration, including the Philadelphia market performance over the past year and the competition which will result from the recent approval of gaming in the State the New York. Consequently, the company will withdraw its licensing applications in Pennsylvania.”
Wynn’s team would not comment further when contacted by Star.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, this is the second time Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn has dropped the option of building a casino in the city: “In April 2010, Wynn agreed to partner with local investors to salvage the faltering Foxwoods project on Columbus Boulevard. But a week after he revealed his involvement, he dropped out.”
Wynn has proposed a casino very similar to the Fishtown roposal in Everett, Ma., a town just outside Boston. That proposal still stands.
The Philadelphia casino was to be built, if granted a license, on the Delaware River waterfront in Fishtown, on land north of the SugarHouse casino—it would have filled 70 acres along Richmond Street, from Schirra Drive to Columbia Avenue.
Wynn had joined five other developers lining up for a chance at securing the city’s second casino license.
On Tuesday, Sept. 24, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board had met to discuss each of the developer’s proposals.
Deputy mayor Alan Greenberger said at that hearing that the Wynn hotel and casino proposed for a waterfront site in the River Wards has the potential to activate unused waterfront space, but did not seem specific to Philadelphia, was in an isolated location, and needed more development of plans for public green space.
“A powerful transformation could take place on our waterfront,” Greenberger told the PGCB, in reference to Wynn Resorts’ proposal, which, in conjunction with SugarHouse Casino, could potentially create a new entertainment destination.
“We do have some concern about the extent to which the established Wynn product has been or will be tailored more specifically to Philadelphia,” Greenberger continued. “We are aware that Wynn Resorts is pursuing similar opportunities in other markets along the East Coast … We would like to hear more from the applicant about why Philadelphia — and this somewhat isolated site — will be particularly attractive to international visitors compared to existing Wynn resort destinations and proposed Wynn regional casinos.”
Neighbors attending meetings of the Fishtown Neighbors Association and Olde Richmond Civic Association earlier this year both voted in favor of the Wynn proposal. The proposal has also seen positive endorsements by the New Kensington Community Development Corporation and Port Richmond on Patrol and Civic.
Philadelphia City Councilman Mark Squilla (D-1st dist.) told Star on the phone Monday that he was shocked to hear that Wynn had withdrawn his application.
“We had a lot of interest from the community surrounding that project, but you had heard people saying he would back out,” Squilla said.
“I think that would have really boosted that area, especially the [riverfront green space] trail part,” Squilla continued. “I looked at it as an opportunity for that area as well as the surrounding community. It’s a little disappointing.”
In a February presentation by Wynn Resorts, Wynn himself described Wynn Philadelphia as a “destination resort,” one he said could potentially become “the nicest hotel on the East Coast,” citing Amtrak trains as key to luring in customers and guests from other cities. The Wynn casino would have boasted slot machines, poker tables, luxury suites, and a 2,000-foot riverfront green space as well, where Wynn said families could stroll independently of the gambling space without getting “anywhere near a slot machine.”
The PGCB has announced in September that its final hearings for the application process would be held in January 2014. The casino license, then, won’t be awarded to one of the now five developers until some point next year. ull;•