By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor
Almost four years after it celebrated its grand opening, the first casino to operate in Philadelphia broke ground on a long-planned $164 million expansion project that is expected to generate hundreds of new jobs and millions in economic benefits for the city.
Located at 1001 N. Delaware Avenue in the Fishtown neighborhood, SugarHouse Casino was built on the site of the former Jack Frost Sugar Refinery that was shut down in 1984. The 1,300,000-square-foot complex officially opened its doors for gamblers in September 2010 after years of delays caused by the economic decline and numerous community protests. At that time SugarHouse was the 10th casino to open in the state of Pennsylvania and was projected to become one of the most profitable entertainment venues in the country, making Philadelphia the largest US city to have a casino. The first phase of the project designed by Cope Linder Architects was completed in fall 2010 and included 1,600 slot machines and 40 table games, according to the Huffington Post which reported on the grand opening.
The new phase of construction is scheduled for completion in 2015. According to a press statement, the $164 million expansion will bring new amenities to the HSP Gaming-owned property. The expansion will encompass the entire north side of the current facility along North Delaware Avenue. As a result, the overall complex will more than double in size, reaching 250,000 square feet. Additionally, a seven-story parking garage with direct access to the gaming area will increase parking to 2,400 spaces, while the public river walk will increase to 2,250 feet of landscaped waterfront access and bike paths. The investment will also add new restaurant space as well as around 30,000 square feet of multi-purpose event space.
As for the gaming area at SugarHouse, casino representatives announced that they will build a $2.9 million poker room with 30 dedicated tables. This facility alone will generate an estimated $1.8 million in taxes to the city and the state and will create 100 new part-time and permanent jobs, with 80 percent of the positions being poker dealers. Because the new gambling facility is scheduled to become fully operational in 2015, the casino will open an interim 24-table poker room that will be open 24/7 to meet the city’s demand for poker.
According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, the SugarHouse Casino expansion project will create 1,600 construction jobs throughout the process. Once completed, the casino will add around 500 permanent jobs to its current staff of 1,100 people. In addition, the expanded gambling complex is expected to generate $1 million in annual contributions for the economic development of Fishtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.
The design plans for this expansion project were created by Cope Linder Architects, while Skanska USA will handle construction management and Philadelphia-based Keating Consulting will oversee development management.
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Rendering courtesy of Cope Linder Architects