It’s back to the drawing board for the planned Wynn Everett casino, as parent Wynn Resorts announced this week that it would be redesigning its proposed $1.6 billion casino near Boston on the recommendation of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
Wynn was awarded the coveted East Massachusetts casino license last month following a protracted bidding war with Mohegan Sun; however the Gaming Commission made it clear that Wynn’s proposal was far from perfect.
While Massachusetts Commissioner James McHugh was satisfied with the amount of money Wynn was prepared to invest in the project, as well as its potential to create jobs and open up new avenues of revenue for the state, he was critical of the proposed design of the building, which he said lacked architectural innovation.
“It’s a generic design and does not reflect something unique to Massachusetts,” McHugh complained. “It does not capture the energy that this company is capable of.”
The artists’ renditions of the exterior of the building depict a rather generic-looking rectangular glass tower block, lacking the experimental curves of the Wynn Las Vegas, for example. In all, the regulator asked Wynn to make 27 changes to its proposal.
Wynn Cleans Up
Wynn Resorts was also asked to make a greater contribution to efforts to relieve traffic congestion in the Sullivan Square area of the town, which will be exacerbated by the opening of the casino resort. It’s projected that 60 percent of the casino’s visitor traffic will flow through the square, and the Commission asked Wynn to pay 10 percent of the costs towards a long-planned $100 million-plus reconstruction of the area, designed to alleviate congestion.
It also wanted the company to pay fines of $20,000 per vehicle that exceeded certain congestion targets. Wynn accepted the reconstruction fees and eventually agreed to pay a further $20 million toward penalties on traffic above set targets in Sullivan Square.
The company has also scheduled a public meeting this week, at Tufts University in Medford, to discuss its cleanup plan for the site on which the casino will be built, a heavily polluted former chemical plant. The cleanup operation at the 30-acre former Monsanto Chemical Company site along the Mystic River is expected to cost millions.
Campaigns Gather Pace
Many Massachusetts residents remain committed to fighting the new casino. The state has a growing anti-casino movement that has already won the right to vote to repeal the 2011 expanded gaming law. Voters will decide whether to do so in the impending November elections, and the “yes” and “no” campaigns are gathering pace.
Steve Wynn has made his own contribution to the “no” campaign, donating $1 million to the “Coalition to Protect Mass Jobs.” MGM, meanwhile, which is proposing to build a resort in Springfield, along with Penn National, which won the right to open slots parlors in the state, have collectively donated $3.5 million in October alone to the No Casino Repeal effort.
Each company has given $3.3 million in funding in total since the summer, a fact that has permitted the “no” campaign to spend over $2 million on TV spots just this month. By contrast, the Repeal the Deal Campaign, while vocal, has no such resources, declaring a balance of $30,000 and debts of $400,000 on October 15.