SugarHouse to discuss expansion plan changes with planning commission

SugarHouse Casino executives want to modify plans for the next phase of the Delaware Avenue casino.  They will give an information-only presentation on the desired changes to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission on Tuesday.

The interim casino has been open for about a year.  The company already has approvals from both the city and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for future phases. The next one includes an expansion of table games and slots and a parking garage.

SugarHouse spokeswoman Leigh Whitaker said Friday she could not detail the modifications the casino wants to make until after they have been presented to the PCPC. SugarHouse will get feedback from the commission at Tuesday’s meeting, which begins at 1 p.m., and then will come back a second time seeking formal commission approval. The modifications would also need PGCB approval, Whitaker said.

“Everybody knows that we had this plan to open the building, then figure out what to do next,” Whitaker said.  It’s now time to “figure out what makes sense in terms of our expansion needs from a business standpoint, a community standpoint and logistics,” she said. “We are working very closely with the gaming board and the city to establish a more specific and detailed plan, and a timeline for expansion.”

While Whitaker said she could not reveal the details of SugarHouse’s amended plans yet, she did say that a proposed hotel is not part of it, and remains in a future phase.

SugarHouse has amended its plan in the past. In 2009, the casino and the mayor announced design changes that the gaming company and the city worked on together. The city had recently stopped trying to convince SugarHouse to move off the waterfront, and asked for additional public access, a reduction in the footprint of the buildings created by placing part of the gaming floor beneath a parking garage, and other changes.  City officials believed the changes would make the casino a better fit with the long-range plan for the Central Delaware Waterfront, which has since coalesced into the Central Delaware Waterfront Master Plan. A month later, the gaming board approved the changes. Community reaction to the design – like most aspects of the casino project – has been a mixed.

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