Casino Revolution renderings: exterior and (inset) bar area. Renderings by Hnedek Bobo Group.
Today is the start of three days of hearings during which the final five bidders for Philadelphia’s casino license will make their case before the PA Gaming Control Board. Established venues such as SugarHouse will also be granted the opportunity to present their rebuttal against the new projects to avoid losing business.
Among the prospective projects, three are proposed for South Philly (Live! Hotel & Casino, Casino Revolutions, and Hollywood Casino), one in Callowhill (the Provence), and one in Center City (Market8). The schedule of the hearings is as follows:
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A rendering of Bart Blatstein’s Provence casino.
One of the things that struck us about Bart Blatstein’s Provence casino proposal from the day it was announced was the function the casino would perform. Of course, it’s the largest single element of the project, but both from its placement (above the street-level restaurants and shops) and the facilities attached to it (a concert venue and rooftop shopping village), it almost seemed the casino was an appendage needed to make all the other goodies possible.
Since that grand announcement party almost a year ago, the other projects vying for the city’s second casino license have largely evolved in the Provence’s direction. Market8, the closest in concept at the start, enlarged its hotel and added more street-level variety. Casino Revolution tacked on a theme park of sorts. And so on.
Blatstein’s introduction of two star chefs for the Provence more or less confirmed our view of the project. It’s not that casinos lose money; if they did that, there wouldn’t be five bidders competing for one casino license. Rather, it’s that the casino is no longer the biggest moneymaker in such projects.
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Photo of the chefs with Blatstein (center) by Sandy Smith
Two star New York chefs whose restaurants sparked neighborhood revivals, Tom Colicchio and Andrew Carmellini, will establish operations in Philadelphia as part of developer Bart Blatstein’s proposed Provence casino-entertainment complex.
Blatstein introduced the pair at a short press conference in a tent atop the parking garage at 15th and Callowhill streets that will fall to make way for the casino and its accompanying shops and restaurants should the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board award the second and last casino license in Philadelphia to his project.
Both Colicchio and Carmellini have track records of opening outstanding restaurants that serve acclaimed cuisine.
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Tom Colicchio and Andrew Camellini with Bart Blatstein | Amanda Laura
If Bart Blatstein lands Philadelphia’s remaining casino license he will bring two nationally known chefs to town. Bart Blatstein told the assembled media at the North Broad Street site of what he hopes will be his Provence Casino that Tom Colicchio and Andrew Carmellini will open restaurants in the complex.
Tom Colicchio, who is known for hosting Top Chef and his Craft restaurants hints that he will be doing a steakhouse that will utilize local farmers for produce and beef as well. He added, “I have a few steakhouses already but I want to do something different, something unique for Philadelphia.”
As for Andrew Camellini, who has six restaurants in New York and Miami, the James Beard winning chef is leaning towards an Italian restaurant. Despite the French name of Provence, the chef is thinking Italian Riviera. “It’s not far from where my family is from, so I think that’s where I’m headed to draw inspiration from.”
Each chef has time to nail down their concept as the gaming board isn’t expected to announce a winner of the second Philadelphia casino license till later in 2014.
For more on Blatstein and the Provence Casino, check out Property.
Bart Blatstein talks with Philly Mag Editor in Chief Tom McGrath at the ThinkFest Salon Series. Thankfully, he had a few comments that evening.
Yesterday Passyunk Post reported that there was a rumor that Bart Blatstein was going to buy the large vacant lot at Broad and Washington, aka, the Cirque du Soleil lot. Actually, this rumor has been on the wind for quite a while, but real estate deals take forever to go through, and it’ll probably be on the wind for a little longer before we get any confirmation yes or no.
However, a gal has to try, and try I did, so here is a transcript of our on-the-record conversation. If you’d just like to apply this transcript to other rumors surrounding Bart’s real estate deals, feel free.
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Last week the Philadelphia Historical Commission considered building changes requested by developer Bart Blatstein, who bought Rittenhouse Square’s long vacant McIlhenny Mansion in April as a personal residence. According to PlanPhilly, “the Blatstein case was considered from two vantages:”
whether the changes he was requesting were merely “alterations” or if they constituted “demolition” of historic fabric; and whether the design of the new building is compatible with the overall historic district.
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So, like Brownstoner and 3rd Ward before it, the Brooklyn Flea has died. It debuted on June 2nd and didn’t live to see 2014. Liz Spikol has some theories about why it failed, but for now, let’s just celebrate this photo of baby Donald, whose father Jared Kushner owns the Piazza, and whose mother is Ivanka.
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Property photographer Laura Kicey went over to the Henry F. Ortlieb Brewery site in Northern Liberties this weekend to chronicle its end. She came away with good news about the Bart Blatstein-owned four-building complex: “They seem to be handling the demolition responsibly–even stopping work every time a pedestrian or car passed by on the street nearest where they were working!” No one’s taking any chances these days.
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Tower Investments’ Bart Blatstein is planning to unload his Tower Place, the H2L2-designed apartment building that took less than a year to go up within the frame of a mid-century state office building. The luxury tower, which has 204 apartments, is 75 percent occupied, writes Natalie Kostelni, and is being marketed by Jones Lang LaSalle.
Part of Revel’s plan for emerging from bankruptcy is to make itself more appealing to chronic and degenerate gamblers who aren’t impressed by bizarre outbursts by Amanda Bynes. So, in addition to an earlier plan to allow smoking indoors, Revel is refunding 100% of all slot-machine losses for the month of July and changing its name from “Revel” to “Revel Hotel-Casino.” It’s new marketing pitch is actually called “Gamblers Wanted.” Which raises the question: Is there anyone who didn’t actually know what Revel was? Was that really the problem?
Sidenote: Developer Bart Blatstein is currently pushing for a Center City casino that, like the old Revel, is focused more on nightlife than on the ritual pissing away of hard-earned paychecks. Perhaps there’s a cautionary tale here about maintaining a Vegas-style operation outside of Vegas.