Six investor groups vying for the city’s final casino license had the opportunity to tout why their respective projects are ideal for Philadelphia.
The applicants made their pitches during a day-long public hearing held Wednesday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
PHL Local Gaming LLC kicked off the afternoon session by pitching their $428 million project named Casino Revolution. Led by produce distributor Joe Proccaci, the group is one of three applicants seeking to bring a casino gaming complex to South Philadelphia.
Two weeks ago, Proccaci announced a partnership with the Lomax Companies, founded by Walter Lomax, an African-American physician. Lomax purchased nine percent of PHL Local Gaming’s equity. Lomax’s private investment firm focuses on venture capital and real estate.
Procacci’s attorney, John O’Riordan, said PHL Local Gaming is the only applicant that has “meaningful and significant” participation of minority ownership.
He highlighted the group’s diversity plan.
“No other bidder in this competition has such a meaningful and ambitious diversity plan. PHL Local Gaming’s commitment isn’t based on loosely worded promises. We set specific and measureable goals — and we have an advisory board to oversee the attainment of those goals,” said O’Riordan.
Their diversity plan calls for 35 percent of the casino’s workforce to be minorities, and 50 percent female. On the construction side, 32 percent of the construction workforce would be minorities and seven percent would be female. Under the plan, 50 percent of the workforce/construction apprentices would be minorities and seven percent would be female.
With regard to supplier diversity and construction contracts, 32 percent would go to minorities and 15 percent to females. There would also be a youth training mandate for the project’s construction manager.
During his presentation, Bennett Lomax, son of Walter Lomax, focused on the attributes of their proposed casino site.
“Our site is the best site of all the applicants due to our size and due to our strategic location,” said Bennett Lomax.
“Our size is an advantage because we have 24 developable acres. We have a large footprint which provides the program flexibility to allow us to change the facility in order to meet market demand and maximize revenue for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia.”
With its close proximity to 1-76 and 1-95, Lomax said the site was the least intrusive to nearby neighborhoods.
Located at Front and Pattison, Casino Revolution would feature a 250-room hotel, restaurants, an entertainment arena and 2,400 slot machines and 85 table games.
The two other projects proposed for South Philadelphia include complexes titled Hollywood Philadelphia and The Live! Hotel and Casino.
Penn National Gaming, a Reading-based operator of 29 casinos and a nonprofit called Philadelphia Casino Benefit Corp. have partnered to bring Hollywood Philadelphia to 700 Packer Street. The project would feature a sports bar overlooking the gaming floor and a 500-room hotel. Philadelphia Casino Benefit Corp. would control two-thirds of the project and get money that would be dedicated to city schools and the municipal pension fund.
The Cordish Companies of Maryland, which runs the Xfinity Live venue, has joined with Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment to bring a casino to 900 Parker Avenue.
Steve Wynn, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts Limited, seeks to expand his casino brand to Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood. Wynn plans to build Wynn Philadelphia, a casino and hotel complex with 300 luxury mini-suites on 60 acres along the Delaware River. The proposed casino would be located at 2001 Beach Street and 2001 through 2005 Richmond Street. Wynn has developed hotels in Atlantic City, Mississippi, Las Vegas and Macau.
“I think that we can have the best hotel on the eastern seaboard right here,” Wynn said during the hearing.
“We can increase the tourism profile of this city right here with a great hotel if we have a well- trained staff, great restaurants, good shopping, convention and meeting space that happens to have a gaming room attached to it.”
Local developer Ken Goldenberg pitched his Market8 casino at 8th and Market Streets in Center City. Last week, he partnered with Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which operates a casino in Luzerne County. Willie Johnson, founder and chairman of PRWT Services is a part of Market8’s investor team.
Local developer Bart Blatstein of Tower Investment LLC, rounded out the public hearing by pitching his proposal to turn the former Inquirer building located at 400 North Broad into The
Provence. The $700 million,125-room hotel and casino complex would feature amenities such as a rooftop dining and shopping village, theater, private swim club, spa and fitness center, botanical gardens and a comedy and jazz club.
The applicants promised more than $100 million annually for state and local tax coffers and thousands of construction and permanent jobs.
The state’s 2004 law legalizing casino style gambling authorized two casinos for Philadelphia. The city’s SugarHouse casino is in operation, but the PGCB revoked Foxwoods’ license in 2010 when it failed to launch the project.
The PGCB has scheduled public input hearings on April 11 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and April 12 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The board will begin accepting registrations through its website www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov on March 4 from government officials, organizations and individuals who would like to testify in April.
The seven-member board is expected to take months to award the second casino license.