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Philadelphia Parking Lot Turning into a Casino?

Developer Ken Goldenberg is difficult to pin down. Like an object in perpetual motion, he pivots from a single real estate project to another on any provided day.

He has eight considerable developments going on all through the area, such as high-rise student housing subsequent to Temple University, luxury carriage properties behind Haverford College, as well as a mixed-use project inside the Graduate Hospital location.

But a single project clearly has the head on the Blue Bell-based Goldenberg Group excited. He wants to turn land he owns at Eighth and Market place Streets – currently a parking lot – into a $500-million entertainment center known as Market8, with a casino, dance club, concert hall, restaurants, and 12-story hotel.

“This is a once-in-a-generation chance to profoundly transform an massive swath with the city and a single of its most significant corridors,” Goldenberg said final week as he unveiled facts with the project.

“We’re not trying to make a complex that can be an island to itself,” Goldenberg stated. “But rather, a thing that may interact integrally with all the whole community and act as a catalyst to enhance and improve every little thing about it.”

That consists of, he stated, the Convention Center, National Constitution Center, Gallery, and hotels and restaurants in the location. He wants his project to help transform the blocks of Market place, from Seventh to 11th Streets, that have lengthy waited for improvement.

Market East Associates L.P., the investor group headed by the 57-year-old Goldenberg, submitted its application for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in mid-November to get a proposed casino. It has given that been modified. The group is one of six vying for the license to create a second casino in the city.

Other applicants contain developer Bart Blatstein, who desires to put a $700 million casino and entertainment complicated on North Broad Street, and gambling mogul Steve Wynn, who has plans for any casino resort in Fishtown. The other 3 proposals – by businessman Joseph Procacci, a partnership in between Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment Inc. and Cordish Cos., and Penn National Gaming Inc. – are for casinos at or near the Sports Complicated.

On Wednesday, Market place East Associates announced that Mohegan Sun, which owns a flagship casino in Connecticut as well as a racetrack casino in Northeastern Pennsylvania, would be the operator as well as a partner within the project.

The Market8 entertainment complex, said Goldenberg, will house five levels.

The ground floor will have five restaurants, a boutique, in addition to a sweet shop.

Floors two and three will offer gambling, with 2,400 slots and 82 table games combined. There will likely be two additional restaurants, two bars with music, along with a food court on both gaming floors. A VIP lounge are going to be on the third floor.

The fourth floor will feature a concert hall that may double as a banquet hall for weddings and conferences. A poker room with 30 tables, big enough to accommodate tournaments, will also be on the fourth floor.

Goldenberg said he also wanted to put a lounge on the fourth floor. “We’re thinking about a Latin-style dance club with live music and good food and great drinks and also a big, outdoor patio location,” he said.

The fifth floor will have an additional restaurant, a rooftop garden, and the lobby with the planned hotel.

The hotel will have 168 rooms. Goldenberg is working with Neil and Jay Shah, who head the Philadelphia-based Hersha Hospitality Trust, which owns the Rittenhouse Hotel. He wants to develop an independent boutique hotel or a brand similar to Hyatt’s Andaz.

The target customer: “Everybody,” Goldenberg stated.

Market place East will make its first presentation to the gaming board Tuesday at the Convention Center, along with the other five applicants.

Goldenberg stated proximity towards the expanded Convention Center 3 blocks away and several hotels was an advantage.

“We anticipate filling up our hotel and generating an massive demand – more than enough – for the Loews, Marriott, and the Monaco, with conventioneers, and those who want to visit the Historic District.

“We have to hit a home run here,” Goldenberg stated. “The project, with its various components, will fit perfectly into the middle of Marketplace Street, much like Cinderella’s slipper.”

Goldenberg mentioned his investor group represented a cross section of your neighborhood. Industry East involves genuine estate developers David Adelman and Ira Lubert, and business executives Willie Johnson, Bill Miller, Cheryl McKissack, William Landman, and Mary Lawton.

“We’re all about Philadelphia. We understand it,” Goldenberg stated. “We work here. We live here.”

But Goldenberg acknowledged his group will have to win Chinatown’s endorsement, and he plans to work closely with all the community. Market8’s site is three blocks from Chinatown, which has opposed casinos over anticipated traffic congestion and fears of increased gambling addiction.

Goldenberg, a civil rights attorney in the 1980s, stated he had developed a niche in merging true estate with public interest work, and the Eighth and Market project ties in with that.

“We try to bring that sensibility to our genuine estate developments, like we do with charities – to create win-win situations,” he stated. “We are committed to doing almost everything we can toward having everyone benefit from this project.”

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