A panel of architectural and traffic experts convened this week by PennPraxis unveiled this morning the rough drafts of plans to redesign two proposed riverfront casinos. The results will be presented in final form on Aug. 8 to Mayor Nutter, who last month asked for the casino study after declaring that the current designs for casinos do not fit into the city's long-range plan to redevelop the banks of the Delaware River.
The redesign plans, drawn by architectural designer Tim Magill of 5+Design in Hollywood, Calif. after more than 18 hours of panel work, suggest significant changes in how the casinos would look. The panel suggested removing grand "porte-cocher" entrances from the front of the casinos, replacing them with courtyard-style arrival points in the center of the two properties. That has the effect of splitting down the center the casinos -- SugarHouse in Fishtown and Foxwoods in South Philly -- to create a pedestrian friendly passage from the street to the riverfront. Those passages would be used by drivers to drop off passengers and enter parking garages. The redesigns also offer alternative entrances to the garages and direct access from parking to the riverfront without the need to pass through the casinos.
As for the garages, the panel says SugarHouse and Foxwoods should conceal them from view. Foxwoods parking would be set behind retail stores and condos while SugarHouse would be concealed by condos and restaurants. Both casinos had planned parking garages in their first phases of construction, to be followed by retail, condos and hotels. The panel says those "mixed-use" parts of the projects should be built at the same time as the casinos and garages.
Foxwoods and SugarHouse, which have been developing their site plans for three years and are not bound by the panel's suggestions, are waiting until they see the PennPraxis report to comment.