Long-awaited $164 million expansion program underway at SugarHouse

MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER City and SugarHouse officials break ground yesterday in Fishtown for the casino's expansion, which will add 400 slots, 30 table games, a poker room, four restaurants and a parking garage.
MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER City and SugarHouse officials break ground yesterday in Fishtown for the casino's expansion, which will add 400 slots, 30 table games, a poker room, four restaurants and a parking garage.
Posted: July 24, 2014

SHOVELS ARE finally in the ground for the long-planned expansion of SugarHouse Casino.

SugarHouse officials, politicians and other big shots were on hand yesterday morning for a groundbreaking ceremony as Philadelphia's first legal casino launched a $164 million construction project. When completed next year, the Fishtown waterfront complex will boast a multiuse event space with river views, new restaurants, a seven-story, 1,500-space parking garage and a poker room with 30 tables. Adding 152,000 square feet of space - not counting the garage - to the existing 108,000 square feet will also allow the installation of 400 more slot machines and 30 gaming tables.

The expansion will yield 1,600 construction jobs and 500 full-time casino positions. SugarHouse currently has about 1,000 employees.

Among those in attendance yesterday were SugarHouse's CEO and general manager, Greg Carlin and Wendy Hamilton, City Council President Darrell Clarke, Councilmen Mark Squilla (in whose district the casino is located) and William Greenlee, and attorney Richard Sprague, a minority owner of the almost four-year-old gambling hall.

During her remarks, Hamilton noted the casino has waited a long time to expand. After the ceremony, she explained the additions weren't necessarily what was originally planned before the recession of 2008 and neighborhood concerns resulted in a downsizing of the original blueprints.

"In 3 1/2 years of operation, we're a lot smarter now," she said. "We know we're building exactly the right thing, because our players have told us.

"We've seen where there is demand, and what people want as part of their gaming experience. That's why even though we don't need a lot of gaming at this point, we knew we needed these amenities to round out the experience. That was pretty much dictated by what our players told us."

Because poker has proven so popular in the region - particularly at Bensalem's Parx Casino and Atlantic City's Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa - players won't have to wait until the permanent card parlor is ready. This fall, a temporary, 24-table space will open on the casino's south side, and will remain in operation until the permanent room debuts sometime next year.


On Twitter: @chuckdarrow

Blog: philly.com/Casinotes

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