Casino coming to Center City?

CENTER CITY - September 10, 2008 - The organization behind the Foxwoods Casino project may be willing to leave their original site of Delaware Avenue in South Philadelphia, and set up shop at The Gallery at Market East, just a few blocks from City Hall.

"The Foxwoods group ultimately decided that this new potential location is even better," said Mayor Michael Nutter.

The idea is, stores would move out of the west end of The Gallery, to be replaced by slot machines and perhaps, one day, a hotel tower.

Officials at the Wednesday press conference say it's not a done deal. But the sense was clearly upbeat.

Originally Foxwoods wanted to build on the river in South Philadelphia. It was a legal, but controversial, site. Push-back from neighbors and the Nutter administration convinced the tribe that operates Foxwoods its original site wasn't in the cards.

"Our plan was not the best plan for waterfront development over the long haul for Philadelphia," said Chairman Michael Thomas of the Mashantucket-Pequot Tribal Nation.

Proponents like The Gallery because it would be steps away from the expanding convention center, with its out-of-towners looking to spend money.

As for traffic congestion, they dismiss it, saying most cars would arrive after the evening rush hour.

What's more, The Gallery sits above a regional mass transit network.

But it also sits only a few steps from Chinatown, and activists there successfully fought the idea of a baseball stadium in the area eight years ago. They are now vowing to fight Foxwoods.

"We absolutely disagree that this is the best option for a casino for Philadelphia," said Helen Gym of Asian Americans United. "It's not up to a casino operator to say where it wants to go and how everybody else needs to fall in line."

Mayor Nutter said that the proposal to move Foxwoods to Center City is a serious proposal that will get serious consideration.

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