Nutter Cites Casino Deal In Works On Market Street As Progress

Mayor Nutter said Friday his administration is not seeking to stymie Foxwoods, a casino approved by the state for South Philly, is now negotiating to convert the former Strawbridge & Clothier store at 8th and Market streets. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)

Mayor Nutter, in a City Hall press conference that just wrapped up, sought to "set the record straight" about the city's role in the construction of two casinos here.  Nutter insisted that his administration has no interest in blocking the projects, despite recent complaints from Gov. Rendell and state legislators. "The city of Philadelphia has not and does not stand in the way of the construction of the two casinos," Nutter said.

To demonstrate the city's willingness to cooperate, Nutter invited Joe Coradino, president of the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, to talk about negotiations with Foxwoods, a casino approved by the state for South Philly that is now negotiating to convert the former Strawbridge & Clothier store at 8th and Market streets.  Coradino said PREIT is "working diligently" toward a deal with Foxwoods and thanked Nutter for the city's help in expediting matters.

Nutter also insisted that he expects SugarHouse, a casino approved by the state for the Delaware riverfront in Fishtown, to build there despite concerns he expressed in the past about that location.  While Foxwoods has been working closely with the city, SugarHouse has asked the state Supreme Court to force the city to issue permits.  Nutter brought a giant mock version of a building foundation permit, saying SugarHouse can pick it up from the Department of Licenses & Inspections right now.

As we told you earlier this week, Rendell griped about slow progress on city casinos and warned that Philadelphia could be stripped through legislation of wage tax relief being generated from gaming taxes on other casinos in the state.  Philadelphia has so far received $86.6 million in wage tax relief from gaming taxes.

UPDATE, 5 pm:  A Foxwoods spokeswoman declined to "put a time-line" on when a deal may be reached with PREIT.  And SugarHouse CEO Greg Carlin just released this statement: "We are delighted to hear that Mayor Nutter will not impede our development on North Delaware Avenue and is willing to work with us to get a casino open as soon as possible."  But Carlin said SugarHouse will continue to seek a "special master" from the state Supreme Court to mediate development disputes with the city.