October 07, 2015
A proposal to build a second casino in Philadelphia took a step forward Tuesday after the city's Planning Commission approved the master plan for the Live! Hotel & Casino at the sports complex in South Philadelphia.
The proposal calls for a 260,000-square-foot casino, a 300-room hotel, a parking lot with 3,000 spaces, and multiple restaurants at 10th and Packer streets, according to PlanPhilly.
The next step in the process requires Philadelphia City Council to pass a bill rezoning the site as a special gaming district under the classification SP-ENT. While the state's Gaming Control Board retains the power to grant gaming licenses in Philadelphia, zoning legislation would sanction the project at the local level.
One of the developers, Baltimore-based Cordish Companies, may also need to make some modifications to its plan in order to be compliant with zoning requirements. Cordish is behind Philadelphia's Xfinity Live! district, which recently completed an expansion including two new restaurants and additional patio space. The second developer, Greenwood Racing, owns Parx Casino & Racing in Bensalem.
At least one local advocacy group is fighting the casino. Members of the local chapter of the National Action Network, founded by Rev. Al Sharpton, raised the issue of alleged discriminatory practices at other Cordish Companies properties. The group, urging the Planning Commission to reject the casino, submitted a report with detailed allegations of activities aimed at limiting the number of African-Americans at Cordish properties in Louisville, Kentucky, and Kansas City, Missouri.
The tactics detailed in the report included directing employees to limit the number of black people in the casino by enforcing a selective dress code and hiring white patrons to fight black patrons as a pretext to eject them.
That report conflicted with a prior investigation by the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, which found no evidence of discrimination at Cordish properties. The company also denied the allegations and maintains that no court has found evidence of discrimination.
The Planning Commission indicated it did not have the expertise to make a determination on the conflicting reports and said that discussion should be had during City Council hearings.
Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who represents the area in question, had previously asked the Planning Commission to review the master plan before drafting a zoning bill. It is not yet clear when Johnson plans to introduce that bill.
According to Travel Weekly, the casino plan includes 2,000 slot machines, more than 125 table games and a 19-story boutique hotel with a spa.
The SugarHouse Casino, Philadelphia's first casino, opened in 2010.
Materials from the Cordish Properties plan can be found here.