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Design Group Says Wynn’s Casino Proposal Is Worst Among Philadelphia Applicants

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For hours on end over two days, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has begun hearing testimony from neighbors, organizations, and elected officials on the six groups competing for Philadelphia’s second casino license.

The marathon sessions at the Pennsylvania Convention Center run tonight until 9pm and tomorrow from 9am to 3pm.

And one group today presented its “report card” on each of the six casino applications.

With no horse in the race, Kiki Bolender of the Design Advocacy Group says her group separately graded the site and the architecture for each of the six proposed casinos (see related story).  She says Steve Wynn’s proposal for the Delaware River waterfront, just north of the Sugarhouse Casino, would create a de facto casino district.

“While this might be desireable, it has not been publicly evaulated,” she told the Gaming Control Board, “and it would certainly depart from the mixed-used residential development of the waterfront envisioned by citizens and planners.”

She gives the Wynn project a D.

“Only the green roof parking garage saves it from an F,” she said.

As for the three groups wanting to locate a casino near the sports complex in South Philadelphia, Bolender says, “(They) may benefit from being out of sight, out of mind, but they may add to stadium congestion. They get low to middle Cs.”

Making the group’s honor roll are Bart Blatstein’s “Provence” project, proposed for the former Inquirer headquarters on North Broad Street, getting a B+, and the “Market 8” proposal for 8th and Market Streets, earning a straight A.

“Market 8 has so far demonstrated the most sensitive urban and architectural design,” Boldender testified.

She says it would knit together the historic district, the convention center, and the retail and business districts of center city.

With another public hearing next month and more this fall, a decision on granting the license could come by the end of the year.

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