City Council approves zoning for $450M casino complex near stadiums

WPVI logo
Friday, December 11, 2015
VIDEO: New Philadelphia casino
EMBED <>More Videos

The project is expected to be an economic boon for the city and for the 5,000 local people the developers plan to hire.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It was an eventful final session of 2015 for Philadelphia City Council on Thursday.

Members voted to approve zoning for a planned $450 million casino and hotel complex in South Philadelphia.

The project is expected to be an economic boom for the city and for the 5,000 local people the developers plan to hire.

"The jobs created must pay living wages and the workers at all stages of the process including construction, professional services, operations, and vending and contracting must represent Philadelphia's diverse demographic makeup," said Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.

Johnson explained the city negotiated with owners, Stadium Casino LLC, for a minimum $12 an hour wage for all employees and contractors.

"Additionally, I have worked with the Office of Economic Opportunity to set historic diversity goals that call for at least 50 percent minority participation in all stages of this project," said Johnson.

According to the plan, the existing Holiday Inn on the 900 block of Packer Avenue will be renovated into a luxury hotel with more than 200 rooms, a spa and conference center. The yet-to-be built casino will have 2000 slot machines, more than 100 table games and live entertainment venues.

Developers expect to benefit from the nearby sports stadiums which draw more than 8 million visitors a year.

Dequan Clark, who works as a server at the Holiday Inn, says he's looking forward to the new project, particularly because the $12 an hour minimum wage could mean a raise.

"I find that to be very interesting and very good for most employees and most of the citizens in Philadelphia," said Clark of Frankford.

Before gaveling out, Mayor Michael Nutter took the opportunity to bid farewell in the chamber where he once worked.

Nutter, who is leaving office next month, said goodbye and thank you to the members of council who are not returning next year.

He credited them, in part, with some $400 million in new annual revenue for schools, and for helping to drive down violent crime.

In a measured and reflective tone, Nutter spoke about his tenure atop city government.

"The many ups and the many downs, the tragedies and the triumphs that we've seen together over the last eight years. It's just been an incredible experience, I think for all of us, but certainly for me to be mayor of my hometown," he said.

The vote puts the casino one step closer to becoming a reality. However, it still needs the State Supreme Court to uphold its gambling license.

Pending clearance, construction could begin in 2016 and the casino could open in 2018.