Sunday, September 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Foxwoods faces a long uphill climb for Phila. mall-sino

The enthusiasm shown for the possible casino at the Gallery at Market East should be tempered by memories of the fate of other grand development dreams.

Foxwoods faces a long uphill climb for Phila. mall-sino

So Foxwoods and its partners will drop their plans for a $670 million South Philadelphia casino in exchange for the chance to build one in what is now a shopping mall in Center City?

I’ll be sure to check it out right after I take the tram over the Delaware River to the Simon Property Group mall at Penn’s Landing to buy something pretty for my wife.

Or maybe after I try that virtual Pirates of the Caribbean ride at DisneyQuest at Eighth and Market.

Oh, that’s right. None of those things was ever built. As for Foxwoods Slots, Mall & Food Court, forgive me, but I won’t hold my breath for the moving sale at Burlington Coat Factory anytime soon.

You can certainly blame the developers of the Penn’s Landing mall or DisneyQuest for whiffing on their projects. They gave up the last time the economy sagged and retailers were weakened.

But our Philadelphia approach to most for-profit development certainly contributed to their ultimate demise. The system will get another workout with this Market Street casino proposal.

At the unveiling, Mayor Nutter and Gov. Rendell noted the long and winding road to come of City Council meetings, zoning and planning reviews, public hearings, and, of course, the obligatory rubber stamp by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Don’t forget the likely litigation from casino opponents, from neighborhood opponents, from those who were denied gambling licenses way back in December 2006, and maybe from the one guy in South Philadelphia who really wanted a casino down his street.

Foxwoods & Partners have already dropped about $120 million on their Columbus Boulevard mirage. And there’s no promise that they’ll get much of that back if they switch plans now.

So what’s the point of no return for them? It’s already been two years of review, litigation and debate, what’s two or three more? What’s a wobbly banking system and global recession?

After all, this will be the project that turns around East Market Street. It’s a casino, it’s a mall, it’s a subway stop. Why, people will be lined up all the way to the Big K trying to get in.

Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist
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Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist
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