Foxwoods releases renderings of redesigned Milford casino proposal

Entryway of proposed Foxwoods resort casino in Milford.
Entryway of proposed Foxwoods resort casino in Milford.
Courtesy Foxwoods Resort Casino

Design plans for a Foxwoods gambling resort in Milford call for a campus of low-rise buildings around a “town square green,” and come with a promise to maintain more than 90 percent of the development’s 187-acre site as open land, according to Foxwoods, which presented its plans to town officials on Monday.

Foxwoods also on Monday released the first renderings of the project, after weeks of furious design work. The casino giant joined the Milford venture as a partner in February and immediately began an overhaul of earlier plans.

For inspiration in the new design, “We looked at what we consider the grand New England resorts,” said Scott Butera, Foxwoods chief executive. Those resorts are “buildings with beautiful rooftops and magnificent porches, and which integrate with their surroundings so there is both an indoor and outdoor experience,” he said.

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“This is meant to be something that looks like it has been in New England for a hundred years and not something that is new and from another area,” he said.

The reception the design receives in Milford will be critical to the fate of the project. If the redesign is well-received, the Milford partnership will seek to begin formal negotiations with town officials about the terms under which the town would accept the project. The developer would commit in the negotiations to making payments to address possible negative effects.

Once that agreement is done, town voters would weigh in on the project at a referendum. No casino proposal can win a license unless the voters of the host community endorse the project at the ballot box.

Foxwoods promises that its $1 billion development would create 3,500 permanent jobs, with a hiring preference for local residence. The resort would provide about $20 million per year in tax revenue to the town of Milford, and the development would spend about $50 million per year on items and services provided by local vendors and suppliers, according to Foxwoods.

As part of its plans for Milford, Foxwoods proposes building a new interchange off Interstate 495, and has been discussing the scope of the work with state and federal transportation officials, Butera said. He said the company estimates 92 percent of its customers will arrive by 495.

Foxwoods will also propose relocating existing power lines at the site “in a way that won’t impact our site and wont impact” local residents, said Butera.

The Milford proposal’s suburban location, about 35 miles from Boston, makes it unique among the contestants in the fierce three-way fight for the sole Greater Boston casino resort license. Foxwoods is competing with two urban proposals: Suffolk Downs in East Boston, proposing a casino at the horse track with partner Caesars Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts, which has released plans for a hotel and casino on the Mystic River waterfront in Everett.

Opponents of the Milford project, many from the surrounding towns, say the suburbs are the worst place for massive gambling resort. Suburbs are more densely populated than rural locations where a casino could be more out of the way, said Brian Herr, a Hopkinton Selectman and chairman of the MetroWest Anti-Casino Coalition. And suburbs also lack the infrastructure of cities, which are be better equipped to handle crowds generated by a large-scale gambling resort, he said.

“The suburbs are the one place not designed to handle something like this,” said Herr, in a Globe interview.

Only one of the three projects can win casino development rights for Greater Boston. The state gambling commission, which controls the casino license, is expected to choose the winner by early 2014.