Thursday, August 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News
High Stakes: The eseential guide to Philly's next casino - Who has the winning hand?

Market8

Market8, a proposal for Philly's second casino license, would transform Market East and Chinatown into a world-class urban gaming hub.

Market East Market8

A casino in the heart of a city’s downtown is a rare thing, but Market East Associates believes that’s just what Philadelphia needs. In fact, the partnership is betting on it.

Name

Market8 - Market East Associates, LP

Location

8th and Market Streets, Center City, site of a current 300-space parking lot.

Estimated cost

$500 million.

Gaming

2,400 slot machines, 82 banked table games and 30 poker tables.

Project size

315,000 square feet of casino, restaurant and entertainment space, plus a hotel.

Theme

A “world-class, multi-dimensional, urban entertainment center with a casino at its core and a four-plus star hotel above.” Market8 is the only of the six proposed casino sites proposed in Center City.

 

The Details

Market8 would be situated between 8th and 9th Streets on Market Street, and bordered by Ranstead Street.  The proposal calls for 315,000 square feet of casino, restaurant and entertainment space.

The site is two blocks west of the Independence Visitors Center, and about three blocks east of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. It is adjacent to The Gallery shopping mall. It is also just blocks from Washington Square, Jewelers’ Row and Chinatown.

This area of Market Street was once dominated by department stores such as Strawbridge & Clothier, Lit Brothers, and Gimbels. But those have long been closed and Philadelphia has been working to shore up the corridor.

Also nearby are the Marriott Convention Center Hotel, the Loews Hotel, the Reading Terminal Market, the Hard Rock Cafe, and other tourist draws.

Among the plans:

  • An underground lot would contain 1,000 valet parking spaces. An additional 340 self-parking spaces are being proposed on the 700 block of Market Street.

  • The first floor would not contain gaming. Rather, Market Street Associates envisions an interior "boulevard" that spans from 8th to 9th street along Market. The first floor would hold five full-service restaurants, a cafe, and a boutique.

  • The second and third floors would provide the main gaming experience: with a bar, food court, and mezzanine on the second floor, and more slot machines, table games, and a VIP lounge on the third floor.

  • The fourth floor would host a poker room, and concert and banquet space.

  • The fifth floor would serve as the lobby of a 12-story hotel and a host a restaurant with a terrace overlooking Market Street.

The Market East group touts the site’s proximity to mass transit. The nearby Market East station connects directly with the Pennsylvania suburbs. The PATCO stop to South Jersey, SEPTA’s Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines, are all within a block or two of the proposed site.  SEPTA, Greyhound and Megabus buses connect nearby. In addition, a high-speed Amtrak rail line is proposed to connect New York City and Washington, D.C. from a station below 8th Street.  But no timetable or funding has been announced for that project.

The 8th and Market site also has the potential to draw heavy foot-traffic. A Market East Associates study estimates 17,500 people walk past the site daily.

The downside could come from motorists from not wishing to drive through Center City congestion. The Ben Franklin Bridge and Vine Street Expressway are just a few blocks away, however.

Impact

Consultants hired by Market Street Associates project Market8 would draw 4.7 million patrons in its first year. Of those, 2.7 million would come directly from Philadelphia. It’s anticipated that the project would produce $207 million in tax revenue to Pennsylvania in the first year of operation in 2016, and $18 million to Philadelphia. It’s anticipated to generate 5,300 one-time jobs and 6,200 regular jobs.

Who’s involved

The ownership of Market East Associates is composed of eight corporations or partnerships that include a variety of influential individuals from Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs. Among the notable principals are Kenneth N. Goldenberg, Ira Lubert, David Adelman, Michael J. Heller, William Landman and gaming corporations associated with the Mohegan Tribe.

  • Goldenberg is founder of the Goldenberg Group of Blue Bell, Montgomery County, and an owner of the current parking lot at 8th and Market.

  • Lubert, a real estate investor; Heller, CEO of the large Philadelphia law firm of Cozen O’Connor, and Landman, CEO of CMS Companies are also principals in the currently operating Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, according to documents on file with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

  • Adelman is CEO of Campus Apartments.

  • The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority operates the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, a racino in Luzerne County, Pa.

  • Other principals in Market8 include Inner City Gaming, LLC, which is comprised of local business executives Dennis E. Cook, Willie Johnson, Bernard W. Smalley Sr., Cheryl McKissack, Mary V. Lawton, William R. Miller and Thomas A. Leonard.

How they’ll pay for it

Market East Associates plans to put up $150 million for the project and finance $350 million through Deutsche Bank.

Source: Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board

Click here for complete coverage of the bid for a gaming license in downtown Philadelphia.

Project Overview: