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August 30, 2014, 2:14 pm

SugarHouse sets expansion plans

Casino celebrates first anniversary, hopes to add 500 jobs to region


SugarHouse Casino is gearing up for a large-scale expansion project.

Casino officials marked the first year anniversary by announcing preliminary plans to significantly expand the gaming operation.

The expansion would include 700 construction jobs and bring an estimated 500 new permanent full and part-time jobs to SugarHouse, bringing the total workforce to 1,500 personnel.

“This will bring our total investment in Philly’s first and only casino to over $500 million,” SugarHouse General Manager Wendy Hamilton said in regards to the expansion project.

“These expansion concepts are essential for realizing the ultimate vision of having SugarHouse serve as a full service gaming and entertainment destination here on the Delaware River Waterfront.”

The expansion plans — which are pending regulatory approval — would more than double SugarHouse’s complex to approximately 250,000 gross square feet. The project calls for an attached seven floor parking garage that allows for more than 500 additional spaces, the expansion of the gaming floor from 51,000 square feet to approximately 90,000 square feet, and a poker room.

The expansion would include space for up to four new waterfront restaurant concepts. The casino’s public river walk will also increase in size to allow for a longer bike path and more landscaped waterfront access. The new construction will also include space for a second-story ballroom, with riverfront views.

Construction on the project is slated to begin in the summer of 2012, with anticipated completion by fall 2013.

When SugarHouse was gearing up to open its doors in September 2010, it faced opposition from community groups who were concerned that the casino would negatively impact their neighborhoods.

City politicians, representatives of community and business groups turned out to mark SugarHouse’s first year anniversary.

Councilman Darrell Clarke, whose district includes an area across from the casino, noted the challenge of bringing SugarHouse to North Delaware Avenue.

“Through it all, there were a special group of people who said we need to have a conversation. They understood that when you are talking about 1,000 jobs, we need to have a conversation,” said Clarke.

“As a result of those discussions, we have the best casino on the East Coast.”

Clarke noted that he hasn’t received any complaints from constituents about the casino.

The press conference also served to highlight SugarHouse’s successes during its first year in operation.

Since it opened, SugarHouse has generated millions of dollars in tax revenue for the city and the state. The revenue includes nearly $53 million in state tax, more than $6 million in local share assessment, approximately $7.7 million for the Economic Development and Tourism Fund and approximately $18 million for the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund.

During the anniversary program, Hamilton presented the Penn Treaty Special Services District with a contribution of $500,000. This brings SugarHouse’s total contribution to SSD to more than $1 million.

The SSD is a municipal authority established in 2010 that provides services, security, planning and maintenance to the Penn Treaty area of Philadelphia, which includes the neighborhoods surrounding the casino — Fishtown, South Kensington, Old Richmond and Northern Liberties.

SDD Chairperson Joseph Raftner says SugarHouse’s contributions have enabled the district fund programs for children, seniors and veterans in their neighborhoods.

The casino was recently named one of this year’s “Best Places to Work” in the eighth annual ranking presented by the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Located at 1001 North Delaware Ave., SugarHouse is one of 10 operating casinos in Pennsylvania.