Developer to unveil plans for N. Broad site, but some don't want casino

Developer Bart Blatstein will unveil plans Wednesday for the old Daily News/Inquirer building on Broad and Callowhill streets.
Developer Bart Blatstein will unveil plans Wednesday for the old Daily News/Inquirer building on Broad and Callowhill streets.
Posted: October 25, 2012

DEVELOPER BART Blatstein is to unveil plans Wednesday for what he's calling a "world-class resort and casino complex" at the site of the former Daily News and Inquirer offices on North Broad Street.

A spokesman said Blatstein's Tower Investments will present architectural renderings for the proposed casino complex Wednesday night at Tendenza at the Piazza, on 2nd Street near Poplar.

Not everyone in the area near the building at Broad and Callowhill streets is ready to pop the champagne.

A lawyer for a new coalition said many people believe that North Broad Street already is developing, "just sprouting up in a really interesting way."

Kevin Greenberg, who represents the coalition, cited Eric Blumenfeld's projects at Loft 640 and the Divine Lorraine; the opening of Osteria, Vie and Alla Spina restaurants; as well as Blatstein's own plans for luxury apartments at the former State Office Building at Broad and Spring Garden streets.

The coalition "is deeply concerned about the impact a casino will have on that community, whether it's traffic, parking, crime and safety, or consistent development for North Broad," Greenberg said.

He said on Tuesday that he couldn't yet name the organizations that make up the coalition but that they include civic groups and religious and educational institutions.

Greenberg also noted that the coalition has neither a pro-casino nor anti-casino focus.

He said the group "is focused on figuring out whether a casino is appropriate for this community, so that it can continue to thrive and grow in a manner that is consistent with the residential and mixed-use development that is so successful now.

"This coalition believes the decision to have two casinos in Philadelphia has been made," Greenberg said.

He said the SugarHouse Casino on Delaware Avenue has had some success.

"But we've also learned from the Foxwoods casino [which was never built] that there are some sites where the traffic, security and other issues are so severe that no casino should be there."

John Chin, executive director of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp., said that "a second casino for Philadelphia is not good for city residents.

"It just continues to create another opportunity for these so-called investors to capture people's hard-earned money."

Sarah McEneaney, president of the Callowhill Neighborhood Association, said her organization "has not taken a position on Bart Blatstein's project."

Sources familiar with the proposals say there are rumors that a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino may be part of one of several casino projects being proposed.

But Frank Keel, a spokesman for Blatstein, said he won't say anything about the project until the official launch.

Nov. 15 is the deadline for developers to submit plans to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.


Contact Valerie Russ at russv@phillynews.com or 215-854-5987. Follow her on Twitter @ValerieRussDN.

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