Good news, everyone who hates ugly things: that hideous advertising tower leftover from yesteryear which kills the sightline from Citizens Bank Park is coming down this week [see UPDATE, the original report was misleading]. Now, if only they can do something about the Oliday Inn.
Across the street, where chin straps gather to drink $7 Bud Lights and eat from a German beer hall that is absolutely nothing like a German beer hall, Xfinity Live! developer Cordish Companies is among the six companies whose applications are being considered today by the Gaming Control Board for Philadelphia’s next casino. Cordisheseseseseses’ idea? A hotel and casino where the Holiday Inn currently stands.
The bidder: The Maryland-based Cordish Cos., which developed Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, has a vision to turn South Philly’s pro-sports complex into an entertainment mecca, with a casino and hotel next to the three stadiums and Xfinity Live!, another Cordish project.
The proposed Live! Hotel and Casino would be just north of Citizens Bank Park, at the site of the Holiday Inn on Packer Avenue. Cordish wants to build a 240-room hotel with 2,000 slot machines and 125 table games.
The backers: Although Cordish is an out-of-state operation – it has downtown developments across the country, including five casinos – it’s partnering with Greenwood Racing, the owners of Bensalem’s Parx Casino, which last year produced more tax revenue than any other Pennsylvania casino. The joint venture with Cordish is called Stadium Casino.
The connected: Former state Rep. Dick Hayden, a Democrat who is close to Nutter and chaired his 2007 campaign, is working on their bid.
Hayden was also appointed by then-Gov. Ed Rendell to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
The Harrisburg lobbying firm Gmerek Government Relations is also on board. The team includes Richard Gmerek, a well-known lobbyist who cut his teeth as a lawyer for the state Senate Republican caucus; Chris Lammando, who worked for Govs. Tom Ridge and Mark Schweiker; and Zachary Strohm, who has worked for state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
The concept of a hotel, at least, has been in the works for years from the folks who brought you Xfinity Live!(!!!!!). It was originally proposed for the site, but the economy (OH HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK!!**), at the time, squashed those plans. Ed Snider, however, has always maintained that it could still happen.
This proposal wouldn’t actually be connected to Xfinity Live!, and it’s unclear if Snider and Comcast would have anything to do with it. I’d imagine there’s some partnership opportunities, though.
We might not know for some time which company gets the license. But, there’s a chance that a new hotel and casino comes to South Philly… you know, to class up the joint.
UPDATE: It’s not coming totally down– just being lowered:
The tower will remain in a different form, a team spokesperson said. It will be lowered in height — from 157 feet tall to 115 feet — and become a two-sided message board. Construction began this week.
*I’m really surprised that Joshua Harris’ Caesars Entertainment hasn’t submitted an application.
**A stink bug buzzed its way to the back of my chair in my otherwise quiet office and scared the shit out of me. I’m good now.