Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn expressed confidence Wednesday that his company’s plans to build a casino in Everett will overcome a legal challenge by the City of Somerville, and that construction on the $2.1 billion development will begin soon.
Speaking in Boston at Boston College’s Chief Executives Club, Wynn dismissed the challenge by Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone as “superficial and groundless” and said “we fully expect to win.”
In February, Somerville appealed a state environmental permit that had been granted to the casino, citing state regulations that restrict waterfront developments. Curtatone contended that the project, just across the Mystic River from Somerville, would have an adverse impact on the environment. Wynn Resorts and casino supporters denounced Curtatone’s challenge as a “selfish, blatant attempt” to further his political ambitions.
On Wednesday, Wynn sounded a conciliatory note toward Curtatone, saying he hoped they could meet soon.
“I’m hoping in the fall lunch can be arranged for us,” he told reporters after his speech. “We have never met.”
During his formal remarks, Wynn was more pointed, saying the casino company was “friends with everyone” except Curtatone, a longstanding opponent of the development.
“And he’ll get over it,” Wynn quipped.
Wynn said he and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh were now “on the best of terms,” despite their lengthy legal battle, which ended in January.
Curtatone, in a statement, said he was pleased to hear “Mr. Wynn wants to be a good neighbor to Somerville.”
“That’s essentially what we’ve been asking for,” he said. “As I’ve made clear for the past two years, my door is open if he is interested in a constructive conversation about Somerville’s concerns.”
Wynn said the casino, called Wynn Boston Harbor, is expected to open in spring 2019, and that the total cost had jumped from $2 billion to an estimated $2.1 billion.
The 24-story casino and hotel complex is expected to draw some 18,000 cars a day, and lawyers for Somerville argue that Wynn Resorts should take additional steps to offset the project’s environmental impacts.
The legal challenge has forced Wynn Resorts to halt environmental cleanup work at the 33-acre property, which is badly contaminated. As part of the development, Wynn Resorts plans to provide public access to the waterfront through parks and landscaped paths, a step that has gained support from environmental groups.
At a Department of Environmental Protection hearing on the appeal last week, a former DEP commissioner said the casino’s permit was a “clear outlier” and said state regulators should have required more concessions from Wynn Resorts.
The DEP is expected to issue a decision this summer. Both sides can appeal the ruling in Superior Court.
Even if Somerville appeals, Wynn said construction would move forward, since the project will have obtained all the necessary permits. If Somerville later prevailed, a judge could halt construction.
Wynn said he hasn’t decided which candidate to support for president, but criticized the federal government as “poorly managed.”
“I’m an angry white guy,” he said.
Voters want a candidate who can offer solutions to the country’s problems, such as the budget deficit, not “racial divisiveness,” he said.
“If you want to be president, you have to come to the job with big ideas,” he said.
Wynn was introduced at the luncheon by Bill Weld, a former Massachusetts governor who has worked as an attorney and lobbyist for Wynn. Weld is running for vice president on the Libertarian ticket, and Wynn wished him well in his campaign. But he did not endorse him.
Sean P. Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.