SOURCE: PHL Local Gaming, LLC

Millennium 3 Management

November 14, 2013 14:00 ET

PHL Local Gaming Introduces LoSo Development Consultant, Takes Issue With Planning Commission Casino Rankings

PHILADELPHIA, PA--(Marketwired - November 14, 2013) - Officials of PHL Local Gaming, LLC, one of five bidders for the available Category 2 gaming license, here, today announced that it has commissioned a nationally recognized theatre, entertainment and shopping center leasing specialist to lead the development of attractions and brands for its LoSo (Lower South) Entertainment Center.

Company officials, including CEO/chairman Joseph Procacci; President Joseph Canfora; Board Member John Burke, former CFO, Trump Entertainment Resorts; Board Member Bennett Lomax, CEO, The Lomax Companies; and John O'Riordan, VP, Community Affairs, also announced today that they have been seriously concerned about the methodology utilized by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission as it developed its ranking of bidders by projected economic impact, in September.

Canfora said his company believes the Planning Commission's report, among other things, substantially underrepresented the economic impact at its proposed site, by ignoring PHL Local's singular potential to expand to 5,000 slots and its unique capacity to "open early" and produce 600 jobs, $41.6 million in state and local taxes and $10.4 million in wages for Philadelphians, at least six months before any other bidder could open for business.

In introducing its new development specialist, Nicholas M. Lillo, PHL Local Gaming also provided more specificity about the potential impact of the LoSo project, which would include attractions such as food-and-beverage and retail businesses, soccer fields, racquet sports, an indoor swimming pool, a zip-line park, rock-climbing facilities, a golf driving range, a dry ski/skateboarding park, a water park, and areas devoted to music and live entertainment. Lillo disclosed a listing of attractions, and restaurant brands that have already expressed interest in becoming a part of the entertainment complex. They include Bassett's Original Memphis Pit BBQ, Rice & Company Sushi Bar, Lucky Strike Bowling Lanes, Bobby's Burger Palace, Texas De Brazil Brazilian Steakhouse, and Fame Night Market and Ultra Lounge, among others.

Lillo, president of midwest-based Bianca Mano Corporation, has enjoyed a 32-year-long career in commercial real estate leasing, development, and hotel, theatre and specialty retail. Prior to starting his own business, Lillo served as national director of Specialty Restaurant and Entertainment Leasing for Simon & Associates/Simon Group. He also has extensive experience in projects in Las Vegas, Mexico, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver and Dubai.

According to Lillo, PHL Local Gaming is ideally situated for convenient access to I-76 and I-95 and its LoSo concept positions Casino Revolution and its proposed entertainment and recreation center as a "super-regional attraction," one that could generate significant traffic from within and beyond the Philadelphia area. Lillo also is confident that the LoSo concept could generate strong, consistent flows of gaming patrons for Casino Revolution.

He confirmed that, in addition to Casino Revolution's gaming-specific impact, LoSo could reasonably and conservatively generate $278 million in annual revenues, create 2,459 full-time jobs, 2,317 construction jobs and 15 million annual visitors, all while generating nearly $29 million in state and local tax revenues.

Commenting further on PHL Local Gaming's "serious concerns" about the Planning Commission's casino rankings, Canfora stated that the report: 1) Seemed to be a thinly disguised justification to use casino investors' funds to promote development in areas separately prioritized by the City, such as the North Broad Street Corridor, the Market East Corridor and the Pennsylvania Convention Center; 2) The report seemed to be dismissive about the need for jobs, contracts, and neighborhood development in South Philadelphia, implying that the community would be better served by remaining an area dominated by industrial/distribution businesses; 3) The Commission's report, on page 41, asserted inaccurately that the three proposed South Philadelphia casinos "Do not present overall programs that highly differentiate themselves from SugarHouse and its customer base;" 4) After disclosing, on page 46 of the report, that everyone of the then-six bidders -- except PHL Local Gaming -- had overstated its gaming revenue projections, the Commission's consultants proceeded to rank those properties, as if those projections had been credibly done; 5) In a city wherein 63 percent of the residents are racially or ethnically diverse, the report seems to totally ignore the issue of economic diversity or inclusion on the part of the eventual licensee; 6) In a globally recognized "city of neighborhoods," the Planning Commission seemed not to assign very much weight in its rankings, if any, to the quality of the relationship the bidders are experiencing in their neighboring communities. Relative levels of neighborhood intrusiveness, curiously, seemed not to be considered, at all; 7) Despite the Commonwealth's inclusion of the issue of "responsible gaming" as a licensee selection criterion, and the vocal and demonstrated support for the concept at the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board's hearings, that issue was also totally overlooked in the Planning Commission's document; and 8) Specifically related to PHL Local Gaming, which has the unique capacity to expand revenues, jobs, and business opportunities over a 5,000-slot facility, the Planning Commission's report seemed to focus only on a single year, or first-year, economic impact analysis. Such an approach, said Canfora, ignores the true, long-term economic potential of the bids.

If successful in its bid for the available casino management license in Philadelphia, PHL Local Gaming, LLC plans to open "Casino Revolution" a $428 million four-star quality, "destination-caliber," 250-room hotel and gaming facility. The casino will offer, in its first year of operation, 2400 slots, 105 table games, a steakhouse, a coffee/espresso bar, a high-end Italian restaurant, a 300-seat buffet, a 156-seat café, and a 1600-car garage.

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