Three casino proposals for Packer Avenue

Posted: November 18, 2012

SUDDENLY, Packer Avenue, that industrial stretch of wide road near the sports stadiums in South Philly, is jumping with casino proposals.

Six applications were submitted Thursday to the state Gaming Control Board for an available casino license in Philadelphia.

Three of them want to set up shop on Packer Avenue. And one bidder has two potential sites there.

The application for PHL Local Gaming LLC was not revealed until Friday morning, when the Gaming Control Board issued a list of bidders.

The new company, incorporated on Wednesday, proposes a casino on eight acres on Packer Avenue at Front Street, the current home of Procacci Brothers Sales Corp., which runs a food warehouse and distribution center there.

Procacci Brothers, started by 85-year-old Joseph Procacci in 1948, is partnering with Merit Management Group of Chicago.

John O'Riordan, an attorney for the local company, said Joseph Procacci is the only owner in the casino venture.

Another Packer Avenue license applicant is Penn National Gaming Corp., which runs a casino and horse-racing track near Harrisburg. Penn National proposes a casino at 7th Street but left open the option of moving the project to a city-owned 27-acre plot on Packer Avenue at 3rd Street.

Penn National is negotiating with U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams and City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson on a way to partner with the city on the casino.

Mayor Nutter's administration, however, says it wants nothing to do with owning a casino. It released letters Friday night sent to both the chief counsel of the Gaming Control Board and the chief compliance officer of Penn National stating that the city is "legally prohibited from acquiring or receiving such an interest" in the casino.

"This may also appear to be an attempt by an applicant to gain advantage over other applicants by attempting to 'partner' with the city government in this venture or to create the potential for further confusion surrounding the second license," said the letters, adding that "this gambit" could elicit a negative response from the state General Assembly, risk lawsuits against the city or delay the second license.

City Solicitor Shelley Smith's letter to Frank Donaghue of Penn National said that the city has not been involved in any discussions with the company but that it should feel free to contribute to the city's pension fund or the school district, which would benefit from the casino under Brady's plan.

The third Packer Avenue application was filed by the Cordish Cos. of Baltimore and the owner of the Parx casino in Bensalem for a site near 9th street.

Other applications were filed by Wynn Resorts for Beach Street on the banks of the Delaware River in Fishtown, The Goldenberg Group for a parking lot at 8th and Market Streets in Center City and Tower Investments for the former home of the Daily News, Inquirer and Philly.com at Broad and Callowhill streets.

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