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Everett mayor unveils casino deal with Steve Wynn

Posted by Your Town  April 25, 2013 05:58 PM

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Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. today announced details of an agreement with Las Vegas casino developer Steve Wynn that is expected to generate millions of dollars in new tax revenues.

The agreement calls for a one-time $30 million payment to a Community Enhancement Fund -- which would be paid during construction of the 19-story, gleaming bronze resort casino proposed for a former factory site on the Mystic River. The one-time $30 million payment will likely be spent on capital improvements, such as police and fire stations, the mayor said.

Other payments include: $25.2 million annually to the city -- $20 million in real estate taxes, $5 million for a community impact fee that would go to police and fire services, and $250,000 to support community groups.These payments will increase by 2.5 percent each year, according to a summary of the agreement released by the City of Everett.

DeMaria said the $25.2 million annual revenues will increase the city's tax collections "by pretty close to 1/3."

"We're excited to bring this to the residents,'' DeMaria said in brief remarks this afternoon. "We think we've struck a good deal for the community."

Wynn has also agreed to pay for $50,000 worth of vouchers to Everett restaurants and other local businesses that would be distributed free to patrons of the casino, the outline states.

An estimated $2.5 million in meals and hotel/motel rooms taxes would be generated, the agreement states. Wynn's plans call for a 550-room hotel, plus upscale restaurants.

An unspecified amount of payments would also be made to the city for utility upgrades, zoning and land use permitting, and an election for a voter referendum on the project, the outline states.

Wynn has also agreed to invest at least $1 billion, and spend an unspecified amount on traffic improvements to the development that would be accessed by routes 16 or 99, two of the most congested roadways in Greater Boston.

Wynn also has committed to a single opening, and one that is not phased in. Everett residents will be given preference for an estimated 8,000 construction and permanent jobs at the facility.

The developer will also make a ''good faith" effort to hire Everett contractors, the outline states.

Public access to the waterfront, and supports for local arts programs is also promised.

In exchange, the City of Everett has agreed to support the project through state and local permitting, petition the state's gambling commission for funding, and develop a harbor plan, work to amend zoning and other land-use regulations.

DeMaria released economic details of the plan during a 5 p.m. news conference at Everett City Hall. A community meeting was planned afterward at the Connelly Center, where the public will learn more details, a city official said earlier today.

Everett voters would get a chance to weigh in with a ballot referendum on June 22.

"The mayor had one chance to strike a good deal, and I believe he did that," said Ward Six Common Councilor Michael McLaughlin, who would not provide specific amounts.

In past Globe interviews, DeMaria has said the proposed $1.2 billion resort casino proposed for an old, industrial site on the Mystic River, could generate up to $35 million annually in fees, taxes and other revenues.

Wynn last month released renderings of the19-tower resort casino designed in the style of his signature Las Vegas properties, such as Wynn Encore. The development would also have upscale shops, restaurants and public access to the waterfront.

A community host agreement, a key element of the state's gambling law, is required to offset any negative impact a massive casino development may have on a community, such as traffic, crime, and addictive gamblers.

Wynn could be the first of three developers vying for the sole resort casino license available for Greater Boston to negotiate a host agreement, said Elaine Driscoll, spokeswoman for the state's gambling commission.

"We are not aware of any additional completed host community agreements," Driscoll wrote in an e-mail to the Globe.

Before a license is awarded, the law requires a community to hold a referendum, to allow residents to vote if they want a casino located in their community. The Everett Common Council and Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to authorize the city to hold the referendum on June 22, according to the city solicitor’s office.

The state's gambling law requires background checks on developers to be completed before the election can be held, Driscoll said.

However, a referendum may be held before the background checks are completed, under a so-called “emergency regulation” recently approved by the gambling commission, Driscoll said.

"They will need to have a formal vote among the mayor/city council to approve holding a referendum," Driscoll wrote in the e-mail. "They will also have to create an education campaign to alert voters to the fact that the commission has not yet determined the applicants suitability."

"We're very optimistic about this development for Everett," DeMaria said today.

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