Morning Headlines: Market8 Gets Three Political Endorsements

Rendering of Market8.

Rendering of Market8.

Market8 has been endorsed yet again, this time by state and local legislators: Rep. John Taylor, Rep. Michael O’Brien, and Councilman Mark Squilla. They join a line of supporters that includes the Washington West Civic Association and the Philadelphia NAACP.

The casino bidder’s presentation at last month’s hearings before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board made a stronger impression than those of the other contenders.

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Morning Headlines: Casino Smackdown Begins. Who Will Win?

casino revolution

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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Is Philadelphia’s Next Casino Just a Spoonful of Slots to Make the Restaurants Go Down?

A rendering of Bart Blatstein's Provence casino.

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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Blatstein Introduces Two Celebrity Chefs for Casino Complex

Photo of the chefs with Blatstein (center) by Sandy Smith

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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Fortuna Realty to PHL Local: If You Build It, We Will Come

casino revolution

Casino Revolution renderings: exterior and (inset) bar area. Renderings by Hnedek Bobo Group.

PHL Local Gaming, one of the five remaining contenders for Philadelphia’s casino license, announced today that Fortuna Realty Group has given them a letter of intent to build a four-star hotel adjacent to its casino should it win the bid. PHL Local’s current application has a 250-room hotel as part of its proposal, so this would be additional hotel space, also with 250 rooms.

Just as a reminder, Casino Revolution would be in the area PHL Local is calling LoSo, or Lower South. That footprint, according to PHL Local, runs from Front Street to Seventh, and Packer Avenue to Pattison. Casino Revolution would have a couple thousand slot machines, 100+ table games, and several restaurants. The company’s stated purpose, however, is not just to bring a casino and entertainment center to that area, but to revitalize it with surrounding new businesses and recreational venues and opportunities.

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ThinkFest Video: Frank Lee

Remember that game of Pong on the Cira Centre? Frank Lee helped create that Guinness Record winning, world’s largest video game. As Associate Professor of Drexel University’s Media Arts and Design program, he is hoping to take the isolation out of technology, and recreate the social and physical interaction we used to have as kids through his unique game designs.

Watch this talk to understand just how he plans to transform the world of gaming and see some clips from his biggest successes yet—the largest video game in the world and a very poorly played game of Tetris.

Market8 Group: ‘Understands Dynamics of African-American Community’


Today Market8, one of the five remaining contenders for Philadelphia’s casino license, announced new endorsements for its project: those of the Philadelphia NAACP; the Urban League of Philadelphia (ULP); the Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC); and the African-American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

The endorsements shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, at least coming from ULP and UAC, with whom Market8 worked to create an inclusion strategy to benefit members of the community who are not generally included in the success of such ventures.

The NAACP’s Jerry Mondesire was impressed by the plan: “I don’t know of any other organization doing a major project that has put this much thought into its inclusion plan,” he said, explaining his organization’s endorsement.

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In the Wake of Wynn’s Departure, Everybody’s Got a Theory


It’s not exactly the Kennedy assassination or 9/11, but Steve Wynn’s decision to withdraw his bid for Philadelphia’s second casino license has people hazarding all kinds of guesses as to the reason for his departure — some of them better than others. We’ve created a plausibility index from 1 to 5 with 5 being “Very Plausible” and 1 being “Oh Please.”


Competition with New York. Wynn said the recent approval to expand casino gambling in New York State was a key factor in his decision. But the NY casinos aren’t going to be anywhere near Philadelphia; the legislation was motivated by a desire to generate jobs in upstate New York. The Times reports that developers are expressing particular interest in the Catskills. Was Wynn really worried that the Catskills would steal patrons from Fishtown? On the other hand, Wynn was hoping the casino would serve as a resort destination that would draw people from all over the country, and perhaps even internationally because that’s the scale he typically works with. If something very grand is ultimately built in New York, will that be competition at some point down the line? Perhaps. Rating: 2

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Breaking: Wynn Withdraws Casino Bid

wynn philadelphia

Big news that just hit the Property inbox:

Statement from Wynn Resorts regarding its developments in Pennsylvania

Las Vegas, November 11, 2013 — The Wynn Resorts Board of Directors recently met to carefully examine the feasibility and opportunities associated with the company’s domestic development in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At this time, the Board has decided that the best course for the company is to pursue business opportunities elsewhere.

The board took a host of factors into consideration, including the Philadelphia market performance over the past year and the competition which will result from the recent approval of gaming in the State the New York. Consequently, the company will withdraw its licensing applications in Pennsylvania.

Here’s how he once felt:

From Wynn's website. With love.

From Wynn’s website. With love.

This is a little bit of déjà vu for those who remember Foxwoods, Wynn’s last flirtation with Philadelphia gaming, in 2010. He pulled out of that deal, too. At the time, the company released a statement that said:

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Market8 Releases New Rendering for Casino Complex

The updated Market8 rendering.

The updated Market8 rendering.

One of the six contenders for Philadelphia’s second casino license, Market8 — an investor group helmed by Ken Goldenberg and Ira Luber, among others — has just released a new vision of what it calls its “urban entertainment center” proposed for Eighth and Market. The announcement emphasizes the commitment to ground-floor retail and restaurants “on a newly beautified Market Street” (their optimism is boundless).

Ken Goldenberg says in the statement:

“We are designing the ground floor to fully engage walkers and commuters, recognizing not just how central our location is, but how critical this is to the vitality of this corridor. We will be opening up that level with transparency, doorways, tables and outdoor seating that will allow 8th and Market to become an attractive social place to meet for lunch, dinner, or coffee, and a place that will create energy and excitement all hours of the day and evening.”

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