The state Supreme Court today rejected a request from the city to reconsider an August ruling that gave SugarHouse, a casino proposed for the Delaware riverfront in Fishtown, control of 11 acres of state-owned "riparian" land. Riparian land is the property along the banks of the riverfront -- some of it submerged, some marshy, some filled in with dirt. Half of SugarHouse's 22-acre site is riparian land.
Then-Mayor Street's administration gave SugarHouse a long-term lease on the 11 acres last year. Mayor Nutter overturned that lease after taking office in January. His administration, joined by several state legislators, argued that only the state had the power to lease or sell the land. The Supreme Court disagreed, saying a 101-year-old state law had "clear and unambiguous language" giving the city the power to lease riparian lands.
Nutter has pushed for SugarHouse and Foxwoods, another proposed riverfront casino in South Philly, to move to new locations. Foxwoods last month said it was considering a move to the Gallery at 11th and Market streets in Center City. But SugarHouse has refused to move. Instead, SugarHouse has suggested it will redesign its casino in Fishtown to better fit the city's vision for fixing up the riverfront. Nutter still wants SugarHouse to move but, after a meeting with casino executives last week, agreed to take a look at a redesigned casino. A meeting of city and state officials, to be called by Gov. Rendell, to discuss relocation with SugarHouse has been on hold while the Supreme Court pondered the city's request to reconsider its riparian ruling.
"We are extremely pleased with the Court’s decision," SugarHouse spokeswoman Leigh Whitaker said. "We anticipate that the City will abide by this decision and follow its legal obligations to facilitate our project."