Not so fast-cash?

Posted: June 15, 2014

IF ANOTHER casino comes to Center City, one councilman wants to ensure predatory lending places don't ride its coattails.

An ordinance that moved through a City Council committee last week would do just that.

Councilman Mark Squilla has introduced a zoning bill that would prohibit any new pawnshops or "personal credit establishments" from cropping up around a tentative site for a casino along Market East.

Market8, a casino pitch for 8th and Market streets by developer Ken Goldenberg, is one of five proposals now in the hands of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Squilla said the gaming board might wait until August before it reaches a decision on where to allow a second Philadelphia casino.

His bill, which passed successfully out of the Rules Committee last week, would ban pawnshops and cash-for-gold outlets from cropping up about a half mile in all directions around the site.

"It's preventative legislation," Squilla said.

"Instead of being reactive, it's proactive. We're not waiting around until a decision is made and trying to rush in and stop a proliferation of these types of businesses in that area. We figured we would prohibit them now in case this is one of the sites that gets picked."

The $500 million Market8 project includes 2,400 slots, 82 table games, 30 poker tables, and restaurant, retail and entertainment spaces. What lies there now is a 300-space parking lot across the street from the headquarters of the Daily News, Inquirer and philly.com.

Squilla's bill would create a new zoning overlay district in the areas bounded by Broad, Spruce and Spring Garden streets and the Delaware River. No "personal-credit establishments" would be allowed in that district.

William Kramer, from the city's Planning Commission, testified before the Rules Committee last Tuesday in favor of the bill.

"The overlay would not generate any changes to the current underlying zoning of the area. However, the overlay will prohibit personal-credit establishments within the district," he said.

"Personal-credit establishments include check-cashing places, pawnshops and payday lenders."

The city has no shortage of casino critics, and this casino would be just two blocks from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

A spokeswoman for Market8 declined to comment.


On Twitter: @RuffTuffDH

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