For years, Wynn Resorts has amassed parcels, piece by piece, across Broadway from its Encore Boston Harbor casino property in Everett. Now, the Las Vegas company is finally moving ahead with plans to turn that land into an entertainment and hospitality destination to draw people beyond just those going to the casino.
The company has filed an application with Everett’s planning department to build its first project on those 13 acres: a block consisting of an 1,800-seat indoor events venue, a two-story restaurant, and a 2,200-car parking garage, connected to the casino across Broadway by a 425-foot-long enclosed pedestrian bridge. Wynn officials said they’re in talks with Ed Kane of Big Night Entertainment Group to operate the events venue — which could accommodate everything from boxing matches to rock concerts to trade shows — and the restaurant. The six-acre project is scheduled to be discussed at a public hearing held by the planning board on Dec. 13. Wynn aims to start construction sometime in 2022 and finish it in 2024.
It would be the first of several phases of development on Wynn’s land there. The rest are still conceptual but as of now call for two hotel blocks totaling 800 rooms with restaurants and stores on the ground floor, and a mixed-use building. The hotels would be, in all likelihood, built and operated by another company, in part to provide alternatives to the luxurious rooms in the Encore tower.
Wynn was sharing ideas with investors for that land, now primarily used for parking, as long ago as the summer of 2019, around the time when the casino opened. But this is the first time formal plans have been submitted to City Hall. Like many casinos, the Encore Boston Harbor casino has enjoyed record profits and revenue in recent months as COVID-19 weary gamblers hit the tables and slot machines there.
“Business has been quite good at Encore Boston Harbor,” said Michael Weaver, Wynn’s chief communications officer. “We believe that now is the time to work on the expansion. It’s kind of the next phase of our company and how we think about growing our company footprint, ... with entertainment and restaurants. The economy is at a point where it makes sense for us.”
Wynn officials say the project would improve traffic flow and safety on Broadway by sharply reducing all the stops and starts to accommodate people walking across the street. Weaver said it’s just a fortuitous coincidence that the company is moving ahead with this development after Governor Charlie Baker’s administration began advancing plans for another footbridge, one that would cross the Mystic River and connect the casino property with the Assembly T station, on the other side of the river in Somerville.
Big Night already runs the Mystique restaurant and the Memoire nightclub at the Encore casino. Kane said he looks forward to expanding Big Night’s successful partnership with Wynn to include the property across the street.
“We’re excited to be included in the conversation and trying to figure out exactly how to curate it and make it a great amenity for the casino and for the folks in Everett, and helping with that streetscape,” Kane said. “We look forward to figuring out exactly what goes in there and what it looks like and all the details once it gets permitted.”
Then there’s the sprawling Exelon power plant complex, essentially next door to this project and across from the casino. Wynn executives would like to eventually see at least a portion of that site facing Broadway get redeveloped. In August, the city of Everett received state approval to acquire a 40-acre section of the power plant property by eminent domain; city officials hope it would help spur a private sale instead of an eminent domain taking. The property has long been rumored as a possible spot for a sports venue, perhaps a new stadium for the New England Revolution. Weaver said inquiries about the Revs would be a question for the soccer team’s owners: The Kraft Group. Regardless, Wynn would like to see something new across the street.
“We remain interested in having something there other than a power plant,” said Chris Gordon, who leads Wynn’s development efforts. “How that happens? Who knows. When that happens? Who knows.”