We know what the new Encore Boston Harbor casino looks like, in all its glory: an oasis of Vegas glitz in an otherwise low-key stretch of Everett, on Boston’s doorstep.
But what about Encore’s encore? Investors in Wynn Resorts, the company that opened the $2.6 billion casino last month, received a glimpse of what could be on the way on Wednesday. In a presentation at the casino, Wynn Resorts highlighted all its parcels in the neighborhood on one slide.
The map on that slide shows the company has accumulated 12 acres across Broadway (Route 99) from the casino and luxury hotel. For now, these parcels are primarily used for temporary parking. But they’re far too valuable to stay that way. Wynn describes them as “long-term development opportunities.”
The map doesn’t specify what will go there. But city officials make no secret about what they expect: a bustling entertainment district. Another hotel tower or two, for sure. Restaurants and cafes. Maybe a movie theater, a conference hall, clothing boutiques, or art galleries. And, hopefully, a new train station could go up nearby.
Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver says the extra parcels could be developed by Wynn or by other entertainment and hospitality companies to fulfill the city’s goals.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria also sees the potential for white-collar workers. As auto body shops make way for hip eateries along Lower Broadway, DeMaria hopes employers will view the stretch as a less expensive option than Boston for offices.
When Steve Wynn visited the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce in 2017, he promised the company would spend at least $90 million on properties around the casino site, to spruce up the neighborhood. At the time, he said the company had already blown through at least $75 million.
Steve Wynn is gone from the picture now; he resigned after facing numerous sexual misconduct allegations. But the company has made it clear it won’t veer from that initial vision that Wynn offered at the chamber two years ago. (DeMaria said he thinks the Wynn land purchases in the city have surpassed $100 million now.)
Improving transit could be crucial. A commuter rail line runs right by the casino, but does not stop there — or anywhere else in Everett. That might change: The Wynn map shows a proposed commuter rail and Silver Line station, behind the MBTA’s sprawling bus maintenance facility next door to the casino. That station is theoretical right now. But theory could turn to reality as Wynn or other developers seek approvals for future projects in the neighborhood.
More concrete: a pedestrian bridge over the Mystic River that would connect Assembly Row and the Orange Line in Somerville to the casino site. That bridge is in the permitting phase, with Wynn providing financial help.
Wynn’s map shows two gaping holes in its development vision: that MBTA bus complex, and the Exelon power plant site across the street. DeMaria would like to see Wynn or another developer buy the T garage property, or at least a portion of it. Weaver says the company has had casual discussions with Exelon about its site, but has no ongoing discussions with the state Department of Transportation about the T property.
Wynn holds the sole casino license for Greater Boston, and sees this as a lucrative opportunity. The company told investors that it expects Encore Boston Harbor to reach roughly $1 billion in operating revenue a year from gambling and other sources, within three years. That would translate to an estimated $275 million in annual profit. It’s no wonder MGM Resorts was interested in acquiring the complex, though both sides say they’re no longer in talks.
To make their investment pay off in Everett, Wynn executives know they can’t just focus on the casino property. The development map shows the next places that are ripe for redevelopment. But the dramatic changes to this part of the city won’t stop there.