“Classy” is probably the last adjective that comes to mind when one thinks of Pennsylvania casinos (I immediately envision oxygen-starved children). But “classy” is exactly what mega-developer Bart Blatstein is promising for his North Broad casino proposal, The Provence.
If realized, the 125-room hotel/shopping village/theatre/swim club/spa/casino/entertainment complex would occupy the old Inquirer building (and some its surrounding area), which Blatstein purchased in 2011.
As expected, many critics are worried that Blatstein’s vision for North Broad would come only at the detriment of the surrounding neighborhood. That’s why Bart met with members of the Callowhill Neighborhood Association on Monday night.
According to PlanPhilly, Blatstein spent the majority of his 90-minute Q&A promising that the the casino’s patrons would be, as writer Jared Brey puts it, “wealthy clientele looking for a place to spend some of their disposable income.” But when co-founder of Casino Free Philadelphia, Jethro Heiko, asked how many slot machines The Provence would offer, Blatstein refused to answer. (The common school of thought being that high-rolling, well-behaved clientele tend to avoid Penny Slots.)
While talking with PlanPhilly, Jethro Heiko commented, “The notion that all of a sudden he’s going to have a casino operator in Hard Rock Café that’s going to change the rules and not cater to the same clientele—low-income and middle class folks, addicting a certain percentage of it in order to gain profit, giving credit to people who shouldn’t have credit on the floor, access to cash and ATMs on the floor … is bullshit.”
When pressed as to how he can assure an influx of swank instead of stank, Blatstein responded, “We’ll get our target market because we don’t have any competition.” Hmmm, by that logic, the Sugar House should look more like the Union League rather than the Port Authority, right?
Other notable highlights included Blatstein’s vow to not accept and tax credits from the city or the state, though, he did say he would be open to federal tax credits. He also said that the casino would be open 24 hours if the law allowed for it. And oh yeah, the whole French theme? Well, that was chosen because the French “bankrolled the American Revolution.”
A telling tribute, indeed.