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Everett strikes deal with Steve Wynn for casino

EVERETT — Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. ­announced details Thursday of an agreement with Las Vegas developer Steve Wynn that would generate millions of dollars in revenue, along with thousands of jobs, if Wynn secures a license to build a $1.2 billion resort casino on the Mystic River.

“We’re very optimistic about this development for Everett,” DeMaria said at a press conference early Thursday evening. “We think we’ve struck a good deal for the community.”

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The agreement calls for a one-time $30 million payment, to be paid during construction of a gleaming, bronze 19-story resort Wynn proposes to build on the former site of a Monsanto chemical factory.

The money would be paid into a so-called Community Enhancement Fund and would probably be spent on capital improvements, includ­ing parks and repairs to public buildings in the city, DeMaria said.

Annual payments would be $25.2 million, includ­ing $20 million in real estate taxes, $5 million to be spent on police and fire protection, and $250,000 in support of local community groups. Those payments will increase by 2.5 percent per year, according to a summary of the agreement.

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Wynn has also agreed to give priority to ­Everett residents for jobs at the resort, which along with a casino, would include a 550-room hotel and upscale shops and restaurants.

“Everett residents need jobs, and they could use help with their taxes,” DeMaria said.

The $20 million real estate tax payment alone would translate into “pretty much one-third more in taxes” to the city’s tax base, DeMaria said.

In a statement, Wynn ­Resorts called the agreement a “significant milestone for the company and [it] brings [the] proposed Wynn Everett Resort project a step closer to fruition.”

Residents of Everett gathered at the Connolly Center Thursday night to talk about the proposed casino, and some raised concerns over traffic, jobs, and tax revenues.

But other residents, who were given baseball caps with Wynn’s signature logo, said that a Las Vegas-style resort is just what the blue collar city needs.

“I think this is one of the greatest things that could ever happen to the city of Everett,” said Vinnie Ragucci, adding that his family has lived in ­Everett since 1898. “If anyone thinks this is a game being played, it’s not. Wynn is here to win.”

Wynn is one of three developers vying for the sole resort casino license available for Greater Boston, which will be awarded by the state’s gambling commission.

The other applicants are Suffolk Downs and Caesar’s ­Entertainment, which proposes a casino at the horse race track on the East Boston/Revere line, and Crossroads Massachusetts, which has proposed a casino on vacant land off Interstate 495 in Milford.

The state’s casino law ­requires developers to negotiate an agreement with a host community, to offset any potential negative impact, such as traffic or addictive gambling.

A spokeswoman for the state’s gambling commission said Wynn is believed to be the first casino developer to negotiate a host community agreement.

“We are not aware of any ­additional completed host community agreements,” spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll wrote in an e-mail to the Globe.

In its statement, Wynn ­Resorts said the agreement “treats Everett residents fairly and will benefit the city for generations to come.”

The developer has also agreed to pay for $50,000 worth of vouchers to Everett restaurants and other local businesses, which would be distributed free to patrons of the casino, according to the agreement.

An estimated $2.5 million in meals and hotel/motel room taxes would also be generated, the agreement states.

The agreement does not ­include details of traffic improve­ment plans for the ­development, which would be reached by Routes 16 or 99, two of the most congested roadways in Greater Boston.

DeMaria said the plan, which must be approved by state transportation officials, is still being developed.

But the developer does plan to provide access from the ­Mystic River, via a water taxi service, the mayor said.

“Residents from all over Greater Boston can access the site from the water, including Logan Airport,” DeMaria said.

In addition, Wynn has agreed to pay for a harbor management plan and to build scenic parks and walkways along a now-gritty stretch of the Mystic River, DeMaria said.

The state’s casino law ­requires a community to hold a referendum to approve a project, before a license can be ­issued.

The law requires the background checks to be completed before the vote is held. But ­Everett has exercised an option allowed under the law to hold the vote before the checks are completed.

The city has authorized a vote to take place on June 22. DeMaria is not concerned about holding the vote early.

“Steve Wynn has the capital to build a casino here,” he said. “He’s the best in the world at what he does.”

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com.
Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.
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