Friday, April 22, 2016

Massive $425M Hotel & Casino Coming to South Philly

A long-awaited new hotel and casino is coming to South Philly. Live! Hotel and Casino will be the second casino granted a gaming license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. It is a beautiful $425 million, 650,000 square foot hotel and gaming complex located at 900 Packer Avenue, close to the sports complex. City officials anticipate the casino will generate approximately 3,000 construction jobs and 1,246 permanent positions. Live! is going to be just the second casino, along with SugarHouse Casino, in the city of Philadelphia.

The $425 million project is planned for a 9-acre parcel at Darien Street and Packer Avenue in South Philly. Presently, there is a 12-story Holiday Inn and surface parking lot at the site.

In their place, according to the plans, there’s to be an 19-floor, 300,000 square foot hotel with 220 rooms; an 8-story, 325,000 square foot casino and parking garage, and seven tiers of parking built over the casino floor covering approximately 1.3 million square feet of surface area.

The complex will have total parking capacity for 3,551 vehicles.

Its main features are a 175,000-square-foot gaming floor that will be open 24 hours a day. It will have 2,150 slot machines and 125 table games, including ninety-two banking games and thirty-three poker tables for all to enjoy, along with 12 high-limit tables, and 80 high-limit slots.

On top of the seven-tiered garage garage will be a rooftop green space with 35,000 square feet for 400 occupants, 75 percent of which will be covered with at least 12 inches of soil planted with grass.

On the second floor of the hotel will be a spa, and on the Penthouse level, along with suites, there will be “private gaming areas.”

Eating will not be a problem for all types of tastes. There are six restaurants throughout. There is everything from high-end food options with celebrity chefs to a food court everyone can enjoy.

It also includes a very large entertainment venue, which will be more than 10,000 square-feet plus 6,500 square-feet of private event space. It all is highlighted by a 1,000-person music venue with a rooftop to keep the party alive.

There is also a planned “Asian Pit,” an area that gets its name from its designation for games frequented by persons from Asian countries or backgrounds. The casino plans to work hard to woo Asians. It’s an important segment to the casino industry as a whole.  A New York Times story estimates that casinos earn 25 percent of their revenue from Asian gamblers.

The City of Philadelphia anticipates that the casino will generate approximately 3,000 construction jobs and 1,246 permanent positions — though the goal given for employing local residents in construction is 32 percent of the total jobs.

Plans call for:
  • A “Las Vegas style” casino with a gaming floor that would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Another 10,000-square-foot entertainment venue and 6,500-square-foot private event space.
  • Six restaurants ranging “from high-end options to a modern diner concept, a food court and a celebrity chef concept.”
  • Renovation of the existing Holiday Inn hotel and conference center into a 220-room hotel with a pool, spa, and fitness facilities.
  • A 1,000-person music venue and rooftop party deck.

The site is accessible via SEPTA’s Broad Street Line and several bus routes, and is also close to major interstates and the Walt Whitman Bridge. Valet parking will be available at the casino, or drivers would use a 3,551-space, self-parking garage.

The site is in close proximity to Lincoln Financial Field, Citizens Bank Park and the Wells Fargo Center, as well as the Xfinity Live! Complex.

The stadium district attracts over eight million visitors a year with 300 events per year. It would be a tremendous driver of traffic for the gaming facility.

The principals expect the development to draw four million visitors annually. The group says its plan will capitalize on the eight million people who already visit the stadium district each year, as well as draw new gamblers from South Jersey.

Live! Hotel and Casino is a joint venture of Greenwood Racing, Inc. (GRI) and Cordish Companies.

Greenwood Racing owns Parx Casino in Bensalem, the highest-revenue-generating casino in the state. Greenwood operates the Atlantic City Race Course and other off-track betting facilities. The company’s key principals include CEO Anthony Ricci and Robert Greene, the chairman and founder.

Baltimore-based Cordish operates multiple casinos and entertainment complexes across the country, including Xfinity Live! in Philadelphia. It operates the recently opened Maryland Live! Casino. The company also owns urban mixed-use projects in Houston, Kansas City and Atlantic City, among others. Its key principals include brothers Jonathan, Blake and Reed Cordish, as well as company partners Joseph Weinberg and Charles Jacobs.

According to the principals, they envision Live! as “one of the major gaming, resort and entertainment destinations in the eastern United States, combining integrated casino, hotel and entertainment facilities.”