By Seth Daniel
The Wynn Boston Harbor resort casino got construction underway in grand fashion during a no-nonsense ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 4, when they announced the beginning of work on the project after three years of permitting and legal wrangling.
The company has signed a contract as of Aug. 3 with Suffolk Construction to deliver the finished product – now a $2.1 billion development – within 34 months, or June 2019. Company officials said it was the largest single-phase private construction project in the history of the state.
The scene was electric as Everett elected officials, Wynn officials, loyal Everett United members and 150 union construction workers found good reason to applaud for the often-controversial project that just last Wednesday got the final license – its Chapter 91 waterways license – that cleared the way for beginning construction on the entire site.
While one possible avenue still exists for the City of Somerville to fight the project, Wynn Boston Harbor is by and large cleared for building the project. Somerville hasn’t indicated whether it will protest the license in Superior Court and still has a few weeks to decide.
Wynn Boston Harbor President Bob DeSalvio began the celebration by giving greetings from CEO Steve Wynn and the Las Vegas arm of the company, which had already mobilized to begin celebration of the opening of a new casino in Asia.
DeSalvio said a good deal of work has already happened on the site with work done for pre-construction, mobilization of equipment, site preparation and utility work. However, the company has had a hiring freeze, has not been able to work in the waterfront zone and has not been able to work on the shoreline.
“In some regards the ground has already been broken for the prep work,” he said. “Today officially launches the official start of construction for Wynn Boston Harbor. After a very lengthy permitting process, a very thorough process…we feel really good about where we are today. There’s no stopping us now. Onward and upward to the opening of Wynn Boston Harbor.”
He added that he planned to begin hiring immediately, and would post three IT jobs that day.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria has given many speeches about the benefits of the project, and pointed first to the workers on site who now had a long and steady job constructing the Wynn Boston Harbor.
However, he focused on the importance of the clean up and re-use of the site to Everett people – both past and present. He talked about how Everett kids often would swim in the Mystic River and come out with an oily sheen. Some, he said, would end up sick.
Workers at the old Monsanto Chemical plant also got sick, he said. He then told a story about John McLoughlin, who was born in Ireland and moved to Everett seeking the opportunity for a job and a better life.”
“In 1921, he found work here, on this site, at the Merrimac Chemical Company,” he said. “Sadly, John passed away at the age of 28 from pulmonary edema, which we now know is caused by breathing in toxic chemicals. He died because of his occupation, leaving behind a wife and most likely a young family. Today we begin turning back the tide and tearing down the walls of toxic pollution by cleaning up this site and returning the Mystic to the people of Everett…You will soon be able to walk along the harbor and enjoy a restored shoreline.”
Chris Gordon, president of Wynn Design and Development Massachusetts, said things will begin with foundation work, but soon the steel would be going up.
“Today, we probably have 150 workers here,” he said. “When you get to 4,000, it’s going to be a very busy site. We’ll have 500 workers here by the end of this year. We’ll make that jump from 150 to 500 and go, go, go from there. We have signed a contract with Suffolk Construction to have this done in 34 months. We’re not talking kind of done, but opening the doors. That’s June 2019. That is a race. By the end of the calendar year, you’ll see steel going up. That’s an exciting moment. By the end of 2017, you’ll see the whole structure up.”
Richard Pedi, business agent for Carpenters Local 218, also welcomed the start of construction.
“This a long awaited, much fought-for project which is going to keep a lot of our people working for the next three years and allow me to bring a lot of young people in to the union and start a career for them,” said Pedi, who estimated that 700 carpenters will work on the project.
State Rep. Joe McGonagle said, “It’s a huge day in Everett. Look out at the jobs that are being created. Congratulations to the Mayor [DeMaria] and the Wynn Group. They’re the ones that brought this to Everett. I’m proud of the Mayor and what his administration has done so congratulations on a huge, historic day for Everett.”
State Sen. Sal DiDomenico was also present at the construction kickoff ceremony.
“When I voted for this legislation twice a few years ago, I never imagined it would be coming to my hometown and I never imagined we would have this kind of facility anywhere in the state,” he said. “This is just a great day for the city of Everett for all the jobs and the revenues coming in to our communities. But not only that – having a first-class resort operator coming in to our area to do all of this and open the waterfront, clean the brownfields – you can’t get any better than what we have here today.”
Councilor Wayne Matewsky said it was going to change Everett for the best.
“Everett is a first-class city and it will be even better now,” he said. “This is going to spur a lot of development. We will be the best city in the state.”
Councilor Michael McLaughlin, who represents the area, said it was amazing to think that four years ago a casino in Everett was unheard of, and now it’s a reality.
“A little under four years ago, Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts came to Everett for the first time,” he said. “They wanted to talk about a dormant site located in Ward Six. As one of the area City Councilors, I said that I would always keep an open mind to any new developments coming into Everett. After speaking with many residents and meeting with Mayor DeMaria, I quickly came to understand what could be an amazing opportunity for the City. It truly is overwhelming to see the fruits of hard labor paid off.”
The ceremony concluded Thursday with DeSalvio and DeMaria shooting off air horns to get the big machines moving.