Mayor Thomas M. Menino is objecting to plans by Suffolk Downs to develop its proposed $1 billion casino resort in phases, with slot machines and table games coming first and resort-style amenities following later.
“I will not support a phased-in casino,” the mayor said in a Globe interview Tuesday. “The product that is right for us in Boston is a full resort destination that provides complete economic development for the area.”
The committee Menino named to advise the city on casino issues made the point in a letter to Suffolk Downs Tuesday, urging the track to submit plans “that complete the project in a single phase.” The letter, signed by the committee’s chairman, Brian Leary, was then released publicly.
The East Boston racetrack has long been seen as the favorite to win the sole casino license created by state law for the Greater Boston and Worcester region.
In June, track officials, along with Suffolk Downs’ casino industry partner, Caesars Entertainment, unveiled plans for a gleaming glass gambling resort that would include a hotel, restaurants, casino space, entertainment venues, and a spa.
In a Globe interview several weeks later, Caesars chief executive Gary Loveman said he foresaw a two-stage development process.
In the first phase, taking about 12 months, “You’d see casino, slots and tables, the usual casino services, and some restaurant services,” Loveman said then. “And then you’d get the hotel, spa, more restaurants, and retail in the second phase.” That second phase would take an additional year.
In talks with city officials, Suffolk Downs has continually raised the prospect of opening the casino in phases, Menino said. “I have continually raised that I don’t accept the issue of a phased casino.”
Menino said such a phased approach “won’t be a wow.”
“It would be a renovation of part of old Suffolk Downs,” he said. “What about the hotel? I want something there that will draw customers to the resort casino, not just have slot machines. We can have slot machines anyplace. . . . It has to support economic development that is right for our city.”
The Boston mayor’s panel of casino advisors, formally called the Host Community Advisory Committee, also urged Suffolk Downs to provide more information the committee needs to evaluate the proposal, including studies of the economic and social effects of the project, as well as more details on transportation and traffic, environmental impacts, and the estimated local and state taxes the project would generate.
Chip Tuttle, Suffolk Downs’ chief operating officer, offered a statement in response:
“We take this letter and the issues raised very seriously and will address them immediately,” Tuttle said by e-mail. “We appreciate very much what is being expressed by the Boston Host Community Advisory Committee in its letter and look forward to responding in a substantive way that reflects our long-standing commitment to create a world-class destination resort befitting the tourism hub of the region, creating thousands of jobs for local residents and significant opportunities for local businesses.”
Mark Arsenault can be reached at email@example.com.