Call it the Everett Riviera?
Las Vegas developer Steve Wynn
provided a first glimpse
Wednesday of his proposed $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion casino hotel on the Mystic River waterfront, presenting a rendering of a tree-lined development, a river walk, and a modern, bronze-glass hotel.
The release of the image is Wynn’s initial punch in a ferocious winner-take-all fight for the sole Greater Boston resort casino license, expected to be the most lucrative casino development rights in Massachusetts.
“You will have a world-class destination in your backyard,” Gamal Aziz, president and chief operating officer of Wynn Resorts Development, said at a presentation to a friendly audience at the Everett Armory.
Aziz said the 19-story hotel tower would include 550 guest suites, ranging in size from 700 square feet to an enormous 2,800 square feet, about the floor space of a single-family house. Wynn intends to forgo the usual high-end national retailers in favor of recruiting local shops and restaurateurs to the development’s retail promenade, he said.
“We can reach out to some of the boutiques that already exist in the state of Massachusetts and in Boston . . . and have these boutique shops and restaurants occupy this entire shopping area,” Aziz said. The project, to be built in a single phase, would create 4,000 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs, he said.
Wynn — who has designed some of the most elaborate casino hotels on the Las Vegas strip, such as Bellagio, Mirage, and the Wynn and Encore resorts — has named the development Wynn Everett. It is proposed for the former Monsanto Chemical Co. site, a polluted plot of vacant industrial land between Route 99 and commuter rail tracks in Everett, near the Boston city line. Aziz said the company is “fully committed to cleaning” soil contamination at the site.
Wynn is competing for development rights with Suffolk Downs, which has proposed a casino at the track in East Boston with partner Caesars Entertainment, and Foxwoods Resort Casino, which has joined an effort to build a gambling resort off Interstate 495 in Milford. The state gambling commission is expected to award the license in early 2014.
Suffolk Downs, which for most of 2012 was the only viable contender for the Greater Boston license, unveiled a 3-D model Wednesday of its $1 billion casino proposal. Chip Tuttle, the track’s chief operating officer, said the timing of the presentation, a few hours after Wynn revealed its first rendering, was just a remarkable coincidence.
The model Suffolk Downs unveiled includes a Caesars hotel, as well as a second hotel tower that would be built by another developer. Tuttle said the track is in talks with potential partners interested in building the second hotel. The model will be available for public viewing in April.
The Everett proposal is Wynn’s second try for a Massachusetts casino license since the state legalized Las Vegas-style gambling in 2011. The billionaire developer made a pitch to build a casino in Foxborough near Gillette Stadium, proposing a design that resembled an enormous ski lodge. He dropped the plan due to local opposition and then made a new bid for a casino in Everett shortly before the gambling commission’s Jan. 15 application deadline.
The Everett site is a homely piece of industrial wasteland, but Wynn finds features of the property extremely attractive, such as the view across the Mystic River to Boston. “We will have a spectacular view of the Boston skyline,” Aziz said in an interview with the Globe.
Wynn is also intrigued about developing along the river. He often incorporates water features into his hotels, such as the dancing fountains at Bellagio, the pirate moat at Treasure Island, and a waterfall and lake at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas. He has designed the Everett project with boat docks and a river walk, and the development’s transportation plan will include water taxi service.
“This will give the people of Everett access to the water,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria, who presented the plan with Aziz.
The roughly 30-acre property is oddly shaped, with a rectangular point jutting into the river, “which is one of the challenges of the site,” Wynn said in an interview in January. “The part of the site that sticks into the river is 300 feet wide at the narrow part and is sort of like a peninsula, and I got to figure out how to integrate the peninsula part into the fatter part of the property.”
The solution Wynn designed is a long, narrow promenade that extends along the peninsula. It would include skylights for natural light, as well as outdoor seating for restaurants.
The presentation Wednesday did not cover the difficult issues facing most casino projects, such as traffic. DeMaria said studies are underway and the company is responsible under the casino law to negotiate an agreement with the city to pay for road improvements to handle the additional traffic.
Wynn is working on a 3-D model of the full development, which will be displayed in Everett this spring.
No casino project can win a license unless it has been endorsed by a referendum of voters of the host community.