Officials from the Encore Boston appeared before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) last Thursday morning to present revised plans for a new development across from the casino on lower Broadway.
Chris Gordon, President of Wynn Resorts Development, which is seeking to have the development not be subject to the same MGC oversight as the casino, explained his company’s plans for the four-block site that will include a parking garage for 2,900 cars, 20,000 square feet of retail space, two to three hotels, and an event center that will seat up to 999 people, which has been reduced in the last month from the original plan for 1,900 seats.
“Broadway is getting better and better,” Gordon said.
All facilities, to be owned by East Properties LLC, will be run by independent vendors other than Wynn Resorts, which holds the gaming license. Also included in the project is an elevated pedestrian bridge that will rise above the present six-lane highway. The highway could be widened to 10 lanes of traffic, bus lanes, and bicycle lanes.
The garage and event center are expected to be in the first phase of the project, with the garage acting to screen the power plant. The street design will include significant green space on the front. The time frame for the full build-out of the project is anticipated to take 10 years.
The Encore officials traced the history of the site for the commissioners to show why the new development, which they said is separate from the casino, should not come under the purview of the MGC.
Attorney Samuel Starr of Mintz Levin laid out the criteria that would exclude the site and the pedestrian bridge from MGC purview.
He noted that Wynn will not have any ownership in the buildings and that all leases will be done by East Properties LLC.
“The hotels and restaurants do not enhance the gaming area of Encore, as they lie across the highway,” Starr said. ”Common ownership is not the case here. Once construction is completed, all buildings will be leased to independent entities.”
The footbridge, termed a “non-traditional structure,” seemed to be the area of contention for commissioners, who were concerned that the people who use the bridge, including children, could accidentally gain access to the gaming floor at Encore by using an exit or the elevator as they seek to leave or get onto the walkway.
Earlier in the meeting, Gordon had stated that presently it is estimated that 30% of the capacity of the roadway is being lost because of the use of signal buttons by pedestrians in order to cross lower Broadway. He noted that the bridge will be clean and safe with stairs, escalators, and elevators. “This structure has nothing to do with Wynn,” he said.
However, Commissioner Bradford Hill noted that “the bridge ends at Encore on the second floor and people could accidentally get on the gaming floor.”
Gordon noted that there will be two exits for pedestrians that are well before they reach the interior of Encore and that security officers would stop anyone who does not have a pass to enter the gaming floor. He further noted that the “exits can be anywhere you want.”
Hill also had a question about the security of the parking garage. Another Wynn official responded that “there will be security in the garage and it will be a safe place.” He added, “This will not be used primarily by visitors to Encore Boston Harbor.”
The next step in the process for this proposal before the MGC will be held on February 28 when public input will be taken. Written comments can be submitted by February 25. Encore officials are expected to be back before the MGC at the March meeting