Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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The Provence

Bart Blatstein's proposal for Philly's second casino license, the French-inspired Provence, would transform North Broad Street.

The Provence

North Philadelphia The Provence

Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein is proposing to redevelop the former Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News building and expand the North Broad Street site into an upscale casino, hotel and retail center.

Name

The Provence - Tower Entertainment, LLC

Location

400 N. Broad St., the former ‘clock tower’ building that formerly housed The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com and dominates Broad Street just north of Vine Street, would be converted into a hotel. The casino, rooftop deck and parking garages would be built along Callowhill Street, between Broad and 17th Street.

Estimated cost

$700 million

Gaming

3,000 electronic gaming devices (slots and automated table games); 150 table games (The casino must open with fewer than 3,000 slots, but plans to later expand to 3,300)

Project size

424,000 square feet would include a casino, concert hall, shops, restaurants, a nightclub and event and meeting space.

Theme

The French-inspired Provence's “sheer size, scope and amenities” will be “not just a regional tourist attraction but one of the most dynamic entertainment destinations on the East Coast” and an economic catalyst for North Broad Street, the principals say. They say their development “is no casino in a box” and will be “just one of the attractions” among the entertainment, shopping and dining options at the complex.

The details

The principals envision the complex as an entertainment center that will spur development north of Center City and take advantage of its proximity to the Convention Center, which is about one-third of a mile away. They say the casino will be The Provence’s “centerpiece,” but will make up less than 20 percent of the project’s total area.

Blatstein’s proposal calls for:

  • A casino that Blatstein told the Callowhill Neighborhood Association in January would be located on the second floor. The 123,000-square-foot casino, he says, would be the only one in the world that visitors to other sections of the development aren’t required to walk through. (The Market8 proposal is similar in that regard.)
  • The Inquirer & Daily News building will be redeveloped as a 125-room hotel.
  • The Provence plans call for construction of a 120,000-square-foot “European-style rooftop village.”
  • Sixty thousand square feet of retail shopping will be added.
  • Eight restaurants are planned.
  • A concert venue, comedy club, jazz club, nightclub, spa, private swim club, botanical garden, and event and meeting facilities are planned.
  • Parking garages will hold 1,700 vehicles.

The principals expect 5.3 million gaming visitors to come to The Provence each year; the development is expected to draw another 361,000 tourists who will also patronize the casino. They say the complex will cater to conventioneers, high-income tourists, locals and others who don’t visit existing casinos.

The principals say the complex will result in another two to three million square feet of additional retail, residential and commercial development within a half mile of The Provence, an area they say is “presently underdeveloped.”

The site is located near public transit that includes SEPTA’s subway lines, various buses and Regional Rail and Trolley routes that stop at Suburban Station.

Impact

  • The project is expected to generate $12.7 million for the city and $148 million for the state in gaming tax revenue in its first year, with $900 million in total gaming tax revenue over the first five years.
  • The principals forecast $457 million in annual gross gaming revenue by year five.
  • They expect ongoing operations at The Provence to generate nearly $17 million annually in non-gaming tax revenue, and construction will yield $19.5 million in non-gambling tax revenue for the city and state.
  • About 2,500 workers are expected to operate The Provence.
  • Ongoing operations are expected to create a total of 3,700 jobs in Pennsylvania, with 3,000 in Philadelphia.
  • Construction is slated to generate 6,400 jobs in the state, with nearly 2,000 in Philadelphia.

Who’s involved

The Provence would be developed by Tower Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of longtime Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein’s Tower Gaming, LLC. A real-estate company also owned by Blatstein, 400 North Broad Partners, LP, owns all four parcels on which the facility is proposed. Blatstein’s other projects in the city include the Piazza at Schmidt’s and numerous developments along Columbus Boulevard.

Tower will have Isle Philadelphia Manager, LLC manage the casino. Isle Philadelphia Manager is a subsidiary of Isle of Capri Casinos Inc., which operates 15 casino properties across the country, as well as an under-construction casino in Farmington, Pa. The St. Louis-based Isle’s current gaming properties are located in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado and Florida. Virginia McDowell, Isle’s president and CEO, is a Pennsylvania native and member of Temple University’s president’s Advisory Board.

Sources: Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, PlanPhilly

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

Project Overview: