SugarHouse is Growing With a $164 Million Expansion
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Wendy Hamilton is the general manger for Philadelphia based SugarHouse Casino. Hamilton can be quoted calling the facility occupied by the casino for the last five years as being “interim”.

Nonetheless August 2015, finds the casino a buzz over a new $164 million dollar addition to the building occupied by the company.

Enthusiastically SugarHouse’s Chief Executive Officer (Greg, Carlin), boast that the new edition will finally give Hamilton and her team “a property that’s worthy of their talents”.

Political infighting over zoning with in the Philadelphia government threatened to derail SugarHouse in the beginning, when the fighting pushed back construction. Another delay occurred when internal disagreements within SugarHouse got in the way, upsetting the planned expansion.

SugarHouse began in in December of 2006, when it was awarded one of Philadelphia’s two casino licenses. The initial project planned for the riverfront property to hold 3,000 slot machines, at detailed an opening cost of $550 million.

In July of 2015, SugarHouse had 1,604 slot machines, however, with the new expansion the casino plans to add an additional 289 slot machines possible as soon as by the end of the year.

The new $559 million expansion will increase parking for the casino by 610 spaces, floor spacing by 70 percent, and add multipurpose event space.

According to Hamilton, the expansion is necessary in order for SugarHouse to remain relevant in a casino market that she describes as “crazy competitive”.

In the onset SugarHouse faced no competition in the market due to Foxwood’s (holder of the second casino license), failure to secure the financing need for its development back in 2004. The license was reissued to a partnership of Baltimore based Cordish Co. and Bensalem’s Parx Casino owners.

Behind the decision to reissue the license, SugarHouse protested by appealed the decision in Pennsylvania Supreme Court. If the court upholds the decision and issues the license to the partnership, Cordish is on record saying the partnership plans to build a $450 million Hotel and Casino that would take 15 months to complete from the time the partnership is able to secure its first permit from the city.

On the side of the partnership are individuals like Alan Greenberger (deputy mayor for economic development). Greenberger theorizes that a second casino would bring more jobs, and economic growth to the city.

Countering the argument of Greenberger, Carlin claims although the gambling market in Philadelphia has stabilized over the last tow years, the city’s policy concerning non-gambling entertainment amenities, does not change.

Earlier this month the partnership submitted its master construction plan to the city’s Planning Commission.

SugarHouse is located in a prime river front location on the Dleaware River just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Alongside the 1,604 slot machines SugarHouse has 54 gaming tables.

With a grand view, and extensive gaming opportunities SugarHouse is one of the Philadelphia Business Journal top four finalist for the Journal’s “Best Business To Work; Extra Large Category” award. The full list is comprised of 54 finalists in small, medium, and extra-large categories.

As part of the expansion SugarHouse plans to bring poker tables to Philadelphia for the first time in October. The casino will become home to twenty-four poker tables that will be placed into a temporary poker room, where they will await their new $2.9 million permanent home to be finished next year.

The new room is estimated to bring in $1.8 million dollars in tax revenue for the city and create 100 new jobs including 80 poker dealers.

In an effort to add to the SugarHouse customer experience, the casino is planning on adding more non-gaming amenities to into the casino’s make-up. Hamilton describes the addition of restaurants, a parking garage, and the designated 30,000 square feet of event space as adding an “amenity-rich experience” to the casino.

One of what may be the more overlooked aspects of the Casino’s expansion is the $1 million payment to the Pennsylvania Treaty Special Service District, designated to go towards the development of Fishtown, and surrounding neighborhoods.