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Developer unveils plan for slot parlor in Boxborough

Would cost $200 million

Cordish Companies

A rendering of the proposed slot parlor in Boxborough.

BOXBOROUGH — A Maryland casino developer would transform a Holiday Inn off ­Interstate 495 in this small town into a gleaming $200 million hotel and slot parlor, under the final proposal submitted by 11 original commercial casino applicants seeking gambling rights in Massachusetts.

The plan calls for the Cordish Companies to buy, renovate, and expand the existing hotel and rebrand the property as a boutique hotel and casino, Joe Weinberg, Cordish managing partner, said Tuesday. Part of the existing building would be demolished and replaced on a 20-acre site in a wooded area.

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The project would include several restaurants, including a buffet, an entertainment area, meeting space, spa and fitness facilities, and — by state law — as many as 1,250 slot machines. It would employ 700 to 750 people, according to Cordish.

Cordish is one of four companies seeking the state’s sole slot parlor license. The Cordish project, if accepted by the town and endorsed by local voters in a referendum, would compete with slot proposals in Plainville, Raynham, and Worcester.

Cordish, a real estate developer with a wide portfolio of projects, has built successful casinos, including Hard Rock casinos in Florida, and, in 2012, it opened the Maryland Live! Casino, just outside Baltimore. The Boxborough project would be similarly named, “Live! Hotel & Casino.”

“We have proven time and again we can build beautiful, modern facilities with a scope of gaming that is slots only,” Weinberg said in a phone interview.

The Cordish proposal is the northern-most casino project in Massachusetts. The company chose the location, at the junction of Route 111 and I-495, to be close to population centers and major highways, yet far from resort casino proposals around Greater Boston, as well as a potential tribal casino project in Taunton. If New Hampshire should legalize casino gambling, the Boxborough site would be well-positioned to intercept customers heading north, Weinberg said.

“We felt this area of the 495-corridor was a strategic location left underserved,” he said.

The company has discussed its proposal with town officials. On Tuesday, it set up renderings and photos of its existing properties at an all-day display for Boxborough residents at the Holiday Inn. Company officials were on hand to answer questions.

The low-key public rollout was in stark contrast to the glitzy productions other casino operators have used to unveil proposals in other communities. But in a quiet community of about 5,000 people, Cordish is stressing that the proposed development is not at odds with small-town life.

“It will be a jewel in the woods, tree-lined on all sides and right next to the highway, minimizing impacts in the surrounding community,” Weinberg said.

Town selectmen decided Monday to allow details of the casino proposal to percolate throughout Boxborough for a week, before they decide how to respond, said Selectman Vincent Amoroso. He expects the five-member board to take up the matter next week.

“We’ll see whether there seems to be any significant sentiment in the town to proceed,” Amoroso said.

Amoroso said he personally opposes any casinos or slot parlors in Boxborough.

“I think gambling is a bad business,” he said. “I think it leads to addiction and other social problems.”

Town executive boards have immense power under the 2011 state casino law to stonewall gambling developments by refusing to negotiate with developers. However, if Boxborough’s board decides to allow the project to advance, selectmen eventually would enter into negotiations with Cordish over the terms under which the town would accept a gambling business. The developer would be expected to pay to offset any negative effects of the project.

Boxborough resident Robert Robinson, who stopped to view the photos and renderings at the Holiday Inn on Tuesday, said his first impressions of the project were favorable. “It should do a lot for town revenue and for the town budget,” he said.

If blocked next week by selectmen, Cordish could offer a new proposal in another community.

Under the new law, the slot parlor license requires a minimum investment of $125 million. Once open, the facility will pay the state 49 percent of its gambling revenue in taxes.

The state gambling commission is expected to award the slot license later this year.

In addition to one slot parlor license, the 2011 state casino law created three resort casino licenses, no more than one each in three regions of the state. The resorts require a minimum investment of $500 million and will pay a tax rate of 25 percent. Three companies competing for the license in Greater Boston are Suffolk Downs in East Boston, Wynn Resorts in Everett, and Foxwoods in Milford.

Three companies are competing for the Western Massachusetts license. One applicant, Penn National Gaming, was eliminated in a citywide competition in Springfield and could return at another location.

Commercial casino companies were banned from Southeastern Massachusetts in the original casino legislation, to give the Mashpee Wampanoag time to make progress on a tribal casino. The gambling commission lifted the ban in April and is expected this month to outline a schedule for accepting applications in the region.

Mark Arsenault can be reached at MArsenault@globe.com. ­Follow him on Twitter ­@BostonGlobeMark
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