No Casino, No Problem

Though they lost their bid for the City’s second casino license, two casino license contestants still have options due to the prime pieces of real estate on which they proposed building a casino.


Last month, the Pennsylvania Gaming Board awarded Philadelphia’s second casino license to Live! Hotel & Casino, to be located at 900 Packer Avenue in South Philadelphia.


The location is in close proximity to Lincoln Financial Field, Citizens Bank Park, the Wells Fargo Center, and the Xfinity Live! Complex.


Live! beat out three other finalists, including two proposed casinos at Broad & Callowhill Streets and Eighth & Market Streets, located near and in Center City, respectively.


City officials are confident that other uses would be both easy to implement and profitable at both Eighth & Market and Broad & Callowhill. The former is currently an open-air parking lot owned by Ken Goldenberg and other investors, the latter is the former Inquirer Building and a multistory parking lot owned by Bart Blatstein.


Center city real estate brokerage CBRE/Fameco has indicated that both a non-grocery retail chain and a movie theater chain may have interest in the Eighth & Market location.


As for Broad & Callowhill, Blatstein reports that multiple groups have expressed interest in its purchase.


The parking lot (left) at 8th & Market, and the former Inquirer building (right) at Broad & Callowhill


While Live!’s victory was welcomed by its backers, Cordish Companies and Greenwood Racing Inc., for local neighborhood residents it was bittersweet. Their hopefulness about job creation is coupled with concerns over increased crime.


There are questions of whether a second casino was a good idea to begin with, given the increasingly saturated market.


However, since the question of whether a second casino would be built or not was off the table, Live! appears to be a good fit given the similar land use and scale of the surrounding stadiums.


Hopefully, the currently underused lot at Eighth & Market and vacant building at Broad & Callowhill can be quickly developed into mixed-use developments. One of the possible uses for the former, a movie theater, is not the most transformative or visionary option, but any walkable commercial use on the ground floor of those downtown sites is certainly preferable to a casino.


Opening image and Eighth & Market lot image courtesy of Philly.com, Inquirer building image courtesy ofHiddenCity.org.

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