Casino developers ‘all in’ Westfield

Casino developers are showing interest in city property that was most recently the focus of a mall development group.
Mayor Daniel M. Knapik confirmed casino developer interest in the same property, located between Barnes Regional Airport and East Mountain Road, that was the proposed location for the Pavilion Mall.
The mall project died when the City Council balked at funding $15 million to construct a road and bridge over the Massachusetts Turnpike to provide access to the retail complex. The primary access to the proposed mall would have been via Westfield Industrial Park Road and over the turnpike.
Knapik said this morning that the city will provide limited infrastructure improvements for a project if a developer obtains the state and city permits to construct a casino on the 200-acre parcel.
“The city will not participate in (construction) of a bridge over the turnpike,” he said. “Access to the site will be the developer’s responsibility.”
Knapik said that the proposed Pavilion Mall project raised a number of traffic movement issues.
“That project raised a number of issues related to traffic and future site development,” he said.
“The City Council took initiative in 2008 by approving a $10 million bond to address a number of those issues related to traffic,” Knapik said. “Construction of some of those improvements will begin this summer.”
Those improvements, which include reconstruction and drainage improvements to Arch Road, are intended to improve traffic flow along Southampton Road.
The property is listed on the city’s Assessor maps as being 216 acres, with the ownership listed as Westfield 1, LLC, Owens Road, LLC and Billerica Realty Associates Limited Partnership of 145 Rosemary St., Needham, Mass.
“The land owner has been contacted by no less than three casino project proponents,” Knapik said. “The city has had some discussion of a project with only one casino developer.”
Knapik declined to name the casino developers assessing the site next to the airport, but said that two of the three are “brand” names in that industry.
Two of the casino developers looking for sites in western Massachusetts recently withdrew from projects proposed in Holyoke and Brimfield.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was considering a partnership with Paper City Development to construct a casino at the 100-acre Wycoff Country Club, while MGM Resorts was considering a 150-acre site in Brimfield to construct the Rolling Hills Resort.
Both of those projects were withdrawn because of the cost of constructing infrastructure and access to the sites.
The estimated cost of providing access to the Westfield site is about $30 million, far less than either the Holyoke or Brimfield projects.

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