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  #21  
Old Posted Apr 7, 2009, 4:45 AM
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Forgive me for my cynicism once again, but once a temporary facility is in place, what incentive is there to provide any promised civic amenity, apart from allowing expansion of more slots? Does the city have any power at all to require them to build phase 2 in the manner in which the designs state, on any sort of timeline at all? Or can they just claim economic factors and maintain whatever they want, whenever they want, citing temporary status?
I'm all for the casinos, but this just seems to be inviting disaster. I don't have much of the details, so it is hard to say, but humor me for now. Hopefully the fact that a nicer, more engaging casino attracting more people would be motivation enough, but with a slots barn, I don't know.
     
     
  #22  
Old Posted Apr 7, 2009, 5:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DocAwesome View Post
Forgive me for my cynicism once again, but once a temporary facility is in place, what incentive is there to provide any promised civic amenity, apart from allowing expansion of more slots? Does the city have any power at all to require them to build phase 2 in the manner in which the designs state, on any sort of timeline at all? Or can they just claim economic factors and maintain whatever they want, whenever they want, citing temporary status?
I'm all for the casinos, but this just seems to be inviting disaster. I don't have much of the details, so it is hard to say, but humor me for now. Hopefully the fact that a nicer, more engaging casino attracting more people would be motivation enough, but with a slots barn, I don't know.
Agreed. They don't need to build the hotel or other amenities until the market demands it. I don't think that slots players will need hotel space. There is a Sugarhouse discussion in the General Dev. thread and we can move this discussion there so we don't get yelled at for casino talk in the development thread.
     
     
  #23  
Old Posted Apr 7, 2009, 5:19 AM
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They've bungled this from jump street. Gambling to reduce property taxes was the Philadlephia politicians brainstorm(Rendell Fumo among others) many of whom switched allegiances in midstorm and tried preventing slots from happening in Philadelphia.


The Slots only decision was a disaster that kept the big boys like MGM on the sidelines. Then the city stalled, economy tanked, and what you are going to be left with is a 7 acre parking lot, a tent, and 12000 slot machines. Absolutely Brutal.
     
     
  #24  
Old Posted Apr 7, 2009, 11:46 AM
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From today's Metro:
Quote:
SugarHouse wants temporary casino
Quote:
What’s different?

The updated plan from SugarHouse is set back from the Delaware River and includes pedestrian access around it. The changes also preclude developers from needing certain permits from the Army Corps of Engineers.
CITY HALL. SugarHouse Casino is hoping for state approval to build an interim casino that could open as soon as next spring — as long as they can get the cash for it.

Developers of the long-delayed project along the Delaware River waterfront unveiled plans yesterday endorsed by Mayor Michael Nutter that would create a 40,000 square-foot casino surrounded by parking lots, which could eventually expand into a development with retail, residential and a hotel.

But developers admitted yesterday that they still need the cash for the project after their financing with defunct Merrill Lynch fell through.

“We don’t anticipate it will be difficult,” said SugarHouse Casino President Bob Sheldon.

The project was approved in December 2006, but has been stalled by city and state officials. The casino sent a petition to the state Gaming Control Board yesterday to get approval for it’s requested changes. Sheldon said SugarHouse could begin construction within four months of state and city approval, while the first phase of the project — included a 3,265-car garage and expanded gaming floor — will take at least two years. There’s no guarantee that the full project, including residential and retail extending to Delaware Avenue, will ever be built.

Opponents of the casino took yesterday’s news that SugarHouse doesn’t yet have financing as a positive.

“We think the resdesign is a ploy to buy more time so they can get financing,” said Paul Boni, an attorney for Casino-Free Philadelphia. “How convenient it is that they now redesign, that after two years of refusing any sort of request, they now suggest a redesign that is going to take time, umpteen more months to approve?”
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  #25  
Old Posted Apr 7, 2009, 12:35 PM
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The links at the bottom of the Plan Philly article here give jpgs and pdfs of both the old design and the new one. Looking at the new design, which is in a 3-phase cycle btw (Interim, I, and II), while I'm still not thrilled about having a casino on the riverfront here, the final product we'll be getting with this design will, at least, be better than the previous design.
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  #26  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2009, 6:28 PM
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Inga's Article Courtesy of We Got Five

"Best Article of the Year"
Quote:
Changing Skyline: Some waterfront lessons from the City by the Bay

By Inga Saffron

Inquirer Architecture Critic

On the same day last week that SugarHouse released its revised design for a big-box casino on the Delaware waterfront, I was strolling through San Francisco's new Mission Bay neighborhood, eyes wide and mouth agape.

Block after block of the city's old port district had been packed with sleek condos, biotech labs, and cafes. My counterpart at the Chronicle, John King, who was showing me around, pointed out the new light-rail system that whisks residents to San Francisco's downtown. Making our way past the Giants' superb ballpark, a new library, and a residence for low-income seniors, we walked down Mission Bay's elegant waterside promenade to a pretty park that had been inserted into a sunny cleft between two freeway ramps. To cap off the Kodak moment, we ran into some schoolkids who were launching kayaks from a new city dock.

Mission Bay is easily one of the best new waterfront neighborhoods in America, with 2,700 new condos already built. Yet a mere 10 years ago, the place didn't exist. It was 300 acres of raw brownfields, populated by a few hardened pioneers living on houseboats in Mission Creek.

Clearly, San Francisco didn't get its waterfront to this point by following the SugarHouse model.

The Nutter administration took some heat last week for signing off on the gaming operator's plan to build a suburban-style box surrounded by acres of asphalt parking just south of Penn Treaty Park. Public anger would be more fairly directed at Gov. Rendell, who prefers easy money to real development, and who imposed this crummy slots barn on the Delaware waterfront.

After the city's legal maneuvers failed to derail the governor's casino express, administration officials concluded that they had more to gain by working cooperatively with SugarHouse to build a better box.

The city doesn't hold many cards now, but Planning Director Alan Greenberger says he hopes to appeal to SugarHouse's sense of civic responsibility to win design concessions, such as landscaping and screens for a future 10-story garage. It's not an unreasonable strategy, especially given that several well-connected Philadelphians, including builder Dan Keating and lawyer Richard Sprague, were virtually appointed millionaires when SugarHouse beat out its better-designed rivals for a state gaming license in 2006.

The "new" design that SugarHouse unveiled last week for its interim casino is really only marginally different from the glitzy images presented to the public during the licensing competition. One reason the rendering seems so shocking today is that the slots parlor has been stripped of its hypothetical accessories - the hotel tower, condos, boardwalk, and marina. This SugarHouse image shows the truth: a box in a parking lot.

SugarHouse's interim casino could just as well be another big-box retailer for all the economic development it will engender. The only spin-off construction Philadelphia can count on is an unfortunate, 10-story parking garage, which SugarHouse promises to build when it expands to a full-size, 3,000-machine operation. That hunk of concrete will be among the most visible landmarks on the waterfront.

It's small solace, but it seems that SugarHouse could be the last highway-style development built on the Delaware.

On Tuesday, the Planning Commission will review a new zoning overlay for the waterfront that would outlaw similar, anti-urban projects. No more big retail boxes. No more stand-alone garages. No more fields of self-storage sheds.

Sponsored by Councilman Frank DiCicco, the overlay legislation isn't perfect, but it does set the stage for creating a waterfront more like Mission Bay. The bill requires developers to leave a 50-foot strip along the river for a recreation path, and that setback is likely to be enlarged to 100 feet in some sections. DiCicco has promised to amend the bill to remove several loopholes.

The zoning overlay will be the first tangible result of the PennPraxis waterfront study, completed in 2007. The next step will be a master plan that lays out a detailed street grid, specifies the building heights for each block, and articulates design guidelines.

But even a master plan doesn't guarantee that Philadelphia will produce its version of Mission Bay. San Francisco's plan was in place for years before development took off.

How did San Francisco do it? Obviously, the explosive growth in nearby Silicon Valley and the city's famously tight housing market helped make Mission Bay attractive to developers. In 2000, the opening of the Giants' AT&T Park, set firmly within the city grid, helped focus attention on the neighborhood. So did the extension of an urbane light-rail line.

"It created a there, there," explained Kelley Kahn, the Mission Bay project manager for San Francisco's Redevelopment Agency.

Things really clicked, however, when the city persuaded Mission Bay's biggest landowner - the development arm for the Santa Fe Pacific Railroad - to donate 43 acres for a new medical campus for the University of California, San Francisco. As the university took shape in 2000, biotech companies flocked to its edges. Their employees began buying homes in the new condo buildings.

Of course, the city could have made all those moves and still produced a lousy neighborhood of lonely, stand-alone towers and garages. But San Francisco was rigorous in sticking to its master plan. It has never granted a variance, Kahn told me. That's impressive because when the plan was written in the mid-1990s, the maximum building height was a quaint 160 feet - about 15 stories. You won't see a single garage in Mission Bay, either. They're all wrapped by apartments and stores.

There's no reason Philadelphia couldn't follow a similar path. Fox Chase Cancer Center is looking for land. What could be more convenient than a riverfront site poised between Philadelphia and New Jersey and tied into the region's transit by light rail?

Unlike a big-box casino, a new riverfront neighborhood won't be built in a year or two. It may take decades. But that's exactly how neighborhoods are supposed to grow.
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  #27  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2009, 1:58 AM
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She does not like the casino design? I am shocked. I think people get to hung up on the design and parking garage. I'll ask again. What is there now? Lets get some activity down there and see where it goes. I'm all for designing to incorporate the river and trails and whatever but this is a start. Don't forget that the Delaware is an industrial river and though severly scaled back down from its height of activity it is still a heavily used industrial area. There isnt a whole lot wrong with having the Delaware not be as pretty as the Schuylkill as long as it is used. Go the the Schuylkill for your running, biking, scenery loving and go to the Delaware for your nightlife. (casino, bars, clubs strip and otherwise)
     
     
  #28  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2009, 2:02 AM
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Why would Fox Chase even consider moving down to the Delaware? If anything the would move out of the city after what the had to deal with regarding the city. They want to expand in their current location. They can't build up due to height restrictions. They can't build out so that people can hit golf balls or play frisbee? Hundreds of well paying jobs will leave this city because of BS.
     
     
  #29  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2009, 8:03 PM
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They're moving dirt around today.
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  #30  
Old Posted Jun 24, 2009, 10:36 PM
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http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/c...ommission.html

Quote:
SugarHouse Casino Approved By City Planning Commission


SugarHouse plans a casino on this riverfront lot at Delaware Avenue and Shackamaxon Street in Fishtown.


The Philadelphia City Planning Commission approved this afternoon a plan of development for SugarHouse, a casino proposed for 22 acres of Delaware riverfront in Fishtown. With zoning and parking changes approved by City Council two weeks ago and signed into law by Mayor Nutter last week, the OK from the City Planning Commission represents the last major hurdle for the project's investors to get moving on construction. [You can download the SugarHouse plan here but be warned: It's a huge file.]

The plan was approved in a 4-2 vote. One commission member, Nancy Rogo Trainer, said she was troubled by the "suburban character" of the SugarHouse plan. "It could be almost anywhere and not on the banks of the Delaware," she added. "I think it's a missed opportunity." Member Joe Syrnick worried that planned paths along the riverfront were "rather skimpy" for crowds he anticipated from casino customers and others. Member Natalia Olson de Savyckyj joined Trainer in voting against the plan, later calling it a "dressed-up Wal-Mart" and the wrong type of development for the riverfront. Syrnick voted for the plan with Nilda Ruiz, Peggy Van Belle and Anuj Gupta.

About a dozen anti-casino and neighborhood activists protested before and during the hearing. During testimony, four of the activists called the hearing a "farce" and a "testament to poor city planning." They tossed bags of fake cash, meant to represent the influence of casino investors, onto the stage where the commission was sitting.

SugarHouse was approved along with Foxwoods, the city's second casino, by the state Gaming Control Board in December 2006. Both projects were hampered for years, first by City Council, neighborhood groups and anti-gambling activists, and then last year by Nutter's new administration. That changed earlier this year after a series of pro-casino rulings by the state Supreme Court and a threat from the state General Assembly to strip Philadelphia of millions in benefits from gaming taxes.

Nutter and Councilman Frank DiCicco announced with SugarHouse in early April that the project would start with an interim casino with 1,700 slot machines surrounded by surface parking lots. Those lots will be transformed in later phases into a larger casino and a 3,000-space parking garage. SugarHouse says it expects to open the interim casino between April and June of next year. The state Gaming Control Board in May approved those changes to the SugarHouse plan.

A Pew Charitable Trusts poll in April found that city residents support the SugarHouse location 60 percent to 35 percent while Foxwoods, originally proposed for South Philly but now planning on a Center City site, was opposed 57 percent to 39 percent.
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  #31  
Old Posted Jun 24, 2009, 10:59 PM
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Great move, can't wait for construction, when will it officially start?
     
     
  #32  
Old Posted Jun 24, 2009, 11:07 PM
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It looks like this was the political last hurdle, so maybe soon?
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  #33  
Old Posted Jul 16, 2009, 12:56 PM
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Hah hah, what rich irony: spending so much time trying to vault all the political hurdles, and they might get sunk by something so small as a pesky little train track:
http://planphilly.com/node/9364
Quote:
An obscure Philadelphia railroad company wants to keep SugarHouse Casino from building “on or near” a right-of-way the city gave to the railroad in 1890.

The Philadelphia Belt Line Railroad Company filed a lawsuit against HSP Gaming – the SugarHouse developer - in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas earlier this year. An initial hearing in the case is scheduled to come before Judge Sandra M. Moss in September. A non-jury trial date has been set for November after SugarHouse's motion for "extraordinary relief" was denied by Moss.

Court documents say SugarHouse “has no right to build its casino on the property in question.”

PBR has asked the Court to affirm that the railroad company has a right of way “ in the bed of what was formerly Penn Street, in the vicinity of the area between Shackamaxon Street and Ellen Street” and to stop SugarHouse “from taking any action to interfere, block, obstruct or otherwise prevent Plantiff from exercising now or in the future its rights to utilize said right of way.”
[/snip]
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  #34  
Old Posted Jul 16, 2009, 1:28 PM
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a ridiculous claim. don't you think any RR ROWs would have been discovered years ago when the property was purchased?
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  #35  
Old Posted Jul 17, 2009, 4:29 AM
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Remember that the bit of Penn St. between WFS and Yards has defunct RR ROW in it...ROW that runs into the grass lot of the SugarHouse site. And double-tracked too, IIRC, so it's not a spur! So yeah, the Belt Line has a claim, but only insofar as either a) SugarHouse pays them to formally declare abandonment or b) that SugarHouse property and operations don't interfere with the Belt Line's dynamic envelope should operations on that route be resumed (remember, Penn St.'s going to be maintained as a service entrance, and that's the RR's claim, that they still have operating rights over it). In the meantime this lawsuit means SugarHouse development is going to take longer than previously estimated.
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  #36  
Old Posted Jul 18, 2009, 7:27 AM
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render credit: planphilly.com
     
     
  #37  
Old Posted Jul 20, 2009, 12:51 PM
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Could this really be it?

Slots Parlor Readies for Groundbreaking
by KYW's Mike Dunn

Posted: Monday, 20 July 2009 4:38AM

After years of protests and bureaucratic hurdles, the Sugarhouse slots parlor on North Delaware Avenue is now likely to have groundbreaking for construction by the end of the summer.

Sugarhouse officials are now locking in financing and dotting the i's on their construction plan, following last month's approval of a revised plan by the city's Planning Commission (see related stories).

Casino officials insist they have no more major hurdles to start building, and they expect groundbreaking by late August or early September. This is project manager Terry McKenna:

"We are finalizing our design at lightning speed, finalizing our financing at lightning speed, and we expect to be in the ground towards the end of the summer."

Sugarhouse is still working out archaeological issues, and is negotiating with a holding company for some old railroad right-of-way. But McKenna insists those matters will delay what's expected to be a ten month construction.

McKenna has been involved with the Sugarhouse casino for five years and is relieved to get this close to actual construction:

"There's been enough delay with this project, and its time to get this project constructed and open, and start generating revenue for the city and the state, and obviously the investors."

The current plan is a scale-down version of the original proposal. McKenna says construction will cost $60 million.

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  #38  
Old Posted Jul 20, 2009, 11:50 PM
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Heartbreaking news
     
     
  #39  
Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 12:19 AM
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I know. All of those construction jobs.
     
     
  #40  
Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 12:42 PM
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I'm really torn on this. First, does anyone have links or resources on the web where it describes the effects of gambling on property values? I've been looking for reports but haven't had success.

Also, I was fairly syked when seeing the original SH renderings - sans beheamoth parking garage - as it seemed more of an entertainment complex than casino. However with the "scaled down" plan now in effect, I'm wondering what will and won't be left out of the original design? Will it be purely a slots barn with no hi-rise, retail, condos, etc? If so, I think the negative effects of having a casino in the area will be more significant than if other elements were incorporated into it?
     
     
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