City files to Supremes over special master

City response to SugarHouse request for Special Master

The City of Philadelphia has asked the State Supreme Court to deny SugarHouse Casino’s request for a special master to help move the gaming project forward, saying any delays are not the city’s fault.

Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Terry Gillen, who is also the mayor’s point person on casinos, said the city has not been stalling on SugarHouse’s permit requests, but has been considering them with due diligence.

“There are lots of reasons the project has been delayed, and we’re not one of them,” Gillen said. She said much of the delay is the result of SugarHouse’s selection of the Delaware Avenue site, because building on the waterfront is complicated.

For example, Gillen said, SugarHouse needs a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. In addition to environmental considerations, the Corps must by federal law examine the history of the Delaware Avenue site. That historical review has been going on for more than a year.

SugarHouse spokeswoman Leigh Whitaker said the city has indeed intentionally delayed the process. For example, Whitaker said, SugarHouse officials last month were told that the city had never received their application for a foundation permit. SugarHouse produced a dated copy of its application, Whitaker said, but heard nothing until the city filed its response to the request for a special master.

In the response, “they are claiming that all we have to do is pick it up,” Whitaker said. “In December, the city alleged that we had never applied for a permit. Now they have changed their story.”

SugarHouse has not tried to pick up its permit, Whitaker said.
“We have not pursued our foundation permit from the City since filing the Application for a Special Master,” she said. “Ultimately, the matter will be resolved by the Supreme Court.”

The State Supreme Court has ruled in favor of SugarHouse or the other proposed Philadelphia casino, Foxwoods, in each of more than a dozen casino-related cases.

Posted by Kellie Patrick Gates

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