Architect leads tour of proposed casino at Broad and Callowhill

Architect Paul Steelman at the former Inquirer building at 400 N. Broad St., site of Bart Blatstein's casino proposal. Pitches by Blatstein and the other would-be casino operators today will be open to the public.
Architect Paul Steelman at the former Inquirer building at 400 N. Broad St., site of Bart Blatstein's casino proposal. Pitches by Blatstein and the other would-be casino operators today will be open to the public. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 13, 2013

ONE DAY BEFORE a presentation to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Paul Steelman held a walking tour of the former Daily News/ Inquirer building to explain the plans for a casino complex called Provence.

Steelman, an architect who designed the proposed complex for developer Bart Blatstein, stood overlooking the skeleton of what was, until a few months ago, the Inquirer's newsroom.

"Bart doesn't have the typical casino vision," Steelman said.

At about nine times the size of the average casino, Provence would aim to create an experience for Philadelphians of all ages, he said. The casino would not be on the ground floor, so visitors would not have to pass through a casino to enjoy Provence, he said.

The rooftop of the building at Broad and Callowhill streets would hold an authentic village - "not faux or Disney-like" - with restaurants, nightclubs and comedy clubs.

The project would focus on gambling as a "tandem-based activity" in which visitors would come to eat and, perhaps, to gamble. Steelman believes that by focusing on the village, Provence would lead to economic growth.

At Tuesday's presentation, Blatstein will be competing with six other casino proposals.

Members of the public will not be allowed to testify at the session, but public hearings will be held April 11 and 12.

Dan Hajdo, a member of Casino-Free Philadelphia, said that the group plans to attend the hearings. He said that the Provence project is being falsely represented as a "restaurant with a casino."

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