It's been more than a month but two things haven't changed: The planned SugarHouse casino in Fishtown still wants to rent a publicly-owned pier for temporary parking. And the casino's investors still don't have a deal with the Delaware River Waterfront Corp., which manages the land for the city.
Alan Greenberger, a DRWC board member and executive director of the City Planning Commission, told his fellow board members this morning that negotiations continue with the casino investors, who hope to be open for business by next summer. Their plan is to initially surround the first phase of the casino with surface lots and then start building a parking garage, perhaps in mid-2011. The investors want to rent the pier near Spring Garden Street for temporary parking during the garage construction. That pier was once home to the city's trash incinerator.
"Nothing's been finalized," Greenberger said of the negotiations. The City Planning Commission approved the SugarHouse plan of development last month, the last major bureaucratic hurdle for construction to start.
Matt Ruben, president of the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association, said his group considers the parking lot now on the pier to be a blight on the only sizable chunk of publicly-owned land on the central Delaware riverfront. "I think there's a risk here of tying up that site for at least three and possibly six years," Ruben warned about the negotiations for casino parking.
Steve Wexler of the Central Delaware Advocacy Group, asked the board to avoid using the pier for casino parking unless no other option was available.
Greenberger said it was clearly in the best interest of the city and the surrounding neighbors to see the pier developed but noted that could take a few years, as part of a larger master plan being drawn up for the riverfront. "It's a special site," Greenberger said. "I think we all want to see it developed."