Like a confident card player not concerned about tipping his hand, developer Bart Blatstein unveiled plans yesterday for a $700 million casino and resort complex on North Broad Street at the site of the former Inquirer building during a lavish party in Northern Liberties.
The proposed development, called The Provence (pronounced Prah-VONCE), would be operated by Hard Rock International. Blatstein, president and CEO of Tower Developments, is one about a handful of developers expected to submit an application to the state Gaming Control Board for the city’s second gaming license before the Nov. 15 deadline.
Blatstein was not concerned about other potential developers seeing his plans.
“I thought it was important to let the world see what we’re all about and get on board,” he said.
All the submissions will be made available to the public once the application period closes, the gaming board said. It could take nine to 12 months before a selection is made. Officials yesterday would not disclose how many applications have been received, but said Blatstein’s unveiling would not affect the selection process.
An attorney with experience in the development community speculated that the release was likely an early marketing ploy.
“I think one of the reasons you’re not seeing others do it is they don’t want to open the door to a lot of public comment before the deadline,” said the attorney, who spoke anonymously because they had worked with Blatstein on other projects. “I guess Bart is thinking ‘Well, let me get a jump on people to start the public relations approach as opposed to two or two and a half weeks from now.”
It’s Bart’s world
Dallas has Jerry’s World. Philadelphia could have Bart’s world.
The proposed casino and resort complex unveiled by Blatstein would feature a 125-room hotel, rooftop shopping and dining, a theater, private swim clubs, several entertainment venues and two indoor parking garages. The project would stretch along Callowhill from Broad to 16th streets.
Blatstein boasted that the project would be the largest private investment in the city’s history and would not use public dollars.
“Financing’s no issue, we’ve got the money,” he told reporters. “I could build four of these projects with the money that’s being offered me.”
Lots of interest
At least five other developers have been rumored to have interest in the second casino license.
Robert Zuritsky, president and CEO of Parkway Corp., which operates several parking lots in Center City, including one across from the former Inquirer site, is involved in one of those projects, but said that proposal is not ready for the public.
Other potential locations for a casino are a 27-acre site in Kensington near the Delaware River, the South Philadelphia sports complex, and North Broad Street across from the former Inquirer building.