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SugarHouse Passes a New Casino Design Before Pennslyvania Gaming Board

On April 4th, 2009, the SugarHouse developers launched the revise design that will be reviewed before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. They will need the consent of the regulators to get the project started. Robert Sheldon, SugarHouse's president said that they will also need $140 million in financing to get the initial gaming establishment up and running.

By this period next year, the first part of the SugarHouse casino could be open for business with 1,500 slot machines a more subdued look. Instead of two stories, the facility will be single-level and surrounded by acres of parking area. Pedestrians and cyclists will be able to enjoy the Delaware River.

Once the first phase is finished, work will start on a ten story parking area and additional gaming space on the twenty-two acre site located between the Fishtown and Northern Liberties area. In 2006, when the SugarHouse casino project received one of the two slot machine licenses for the state of Philadelphia, the gaming partners told state gambling regulators they had prepared $445 million in financing from Merrill Lynch and Co.

But Sheldon said that agreement with the brokerage firm no longer existed because Merrill Lynch was forced to merge with Bank of America due to the financial crisis. Sheldon said that SugarHouse gaming partners had committed $160 million of their own money to the casino project, which should make creditors more comfortable about releasing loans.

The SugarHouse gaming partners include Chicago gaming billionaire Neil Bluhm and local investors include real estate developer Daniel Keating, Lawyer Richard A. Sprague, former state Supreme Court Justice William Lamb, automobile magnate Robert Potamkin and business service entrepreneur Jerry Johnson.

Under its slots casino license, SugarHouse was supposed to have 1,500 slot machines operating by now. But the gaming partners are seeking an extension and recently filed an amended petition that features the new design.

With the new design, the main casino facility is lower and farther from the water's edge. The project manager for SugarHouse, Terry McKenna said that the US fish and wildlife agency objected to the design of the promenade because of its potential harm to wildlife. The entrance to the casino facility will also be less prominent. But the new design still includes a big parking area for more than 3,000 cars, which will be the biggest ever in Philadelphia.

Harris Steinberg, the executive director of PennPraxis, a design group connected with the University of Pennsylvania, said that the design of the facility will be one-of-a kind in the city.

Steinberg said that the developers of SugarHouse had take sometime to reconsider some of his recommendations but remained attached to an auto-centric project. He added that the surface parking for the facility, with spaces for 1,465 cards, would like a typical stadium parking area.


19 April 2009
News Submitted by:
Lauren Desmond

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