Every time we go to a professional sports game in South Philly, we are amazed at the sea of parking lots surrounding the stadiums. This area is right off the Broad St. Line, just north of the Navy Yard, next to FDR Park, accessible by two major highways, and near a ton of other booming neighborhoods in South Philadelphia. Yet, these acres of asphalt sit mostly unused outside of scheduled sporting events, concerts, and the like.
We’ve always imagined the development of a mixed-use community over these parking lots with residential, entertainment, and office uses. A few years ago, a masterplan was released for the stadium district that includes all of these uses. We’ll do a deep dive into that vision in the future. But, today, we are going to focus on a development that is underway. The Live! Casino and Hotel is currently under construction.
If you have been to a Phillies game this year, you may notice that the old Holiday Inn is no longer visible beyond the outfield just north of Citizens Bank Park. The hotel and surrounding parking lot on the 397,991 square foot Special Entertainment (SP-ENT) zoned lot was acquired by developers for $37 million. The sale went through in January of 2018. However, the casino had been in the works since at least 2012. Rounds of applications for a casino license and ensuing lawsuits kept the project from moving forward and breaking ground for years. Other casinos in the area tried to use the courts to stop Live! from opening. We won’t go into details about all of those events as there are a ton of other articles out there where you can find about those issues if you are interested.
Demolition permits were pulled for the Holiday Inn in April of 2018 and the wrecking ball finally struck in early 2019. The Live! Casino and Hotel has just started rising out of the ground with what looks like 3 stories already above grade. An interesting cladding is beginning to wrap around the first floor. The construction site is gigantic. The pictures that we took today do not reflect the size of this project. Next time you are down at a ball game, check it out for yourself.
Cordish Companies is leading the $700 million, 1.5 million square foot project which includes a 12-story, 200+ room hotel, and an 8-story, 2,700-space parking garage. The casino will include 2,200 slot machines and more than 150 gaming tables. Restaurants and other entertainment spaces will also be included.
Cordish Companies is an owner of the popular sports bar Xfinity Live! along with Comcast Spectacor. Cordish plans on giving more than $15 million in grants to support the local community within the first 10 years the casino is in operation. The Sugarhouse Casino entered into a similar partnership with the surrounding community when it opened. That partnership has led to a bunch of different projects through the Penn Treaty Special Services District. Those grants have funded schools, parks, churches, athletic leagues, business improvement districts, neighborhood associations, and more.
We look forward to seeing the Live! Casino and Hotel open. We are not big gamblers ourselves, and do worry about people gambling away money they do not have. However, the state of Pennsylvania decided to legalize gambling. The pros and cons were weighed by our elected officials, who ended up deciding that casinos were a net positive for the commonwealth.
It will be good to have more places to be able to eat, drink, and be entertained before and after major sporting events. Although we are astounded by the number of parking spaces included in the project, seeing another surface lot bite the dust is a positive. It will also be interesting to see what kind of sports betting lounge Cordish Companies creates. We imagine that there will be a lot of wagering going on at Live! Casino and Hotel and the sports area will be a focus of the casino.
How do you feel about this project? What types of projects would you like to see funded from the grants Cordish Companies has promised?
Kyle is a commercial real estate agent at Rittenhouse Realty Advisors, a homeowner, and a real estate investor in Philadelphia. Kyle uses his extensive Philadelphia real estate market knowledge to help his clients buy and sell multifamily investment properties, development opportunities, and industrial sites.
Email Kyle@RittenhouseRealty.com if you are looking to buy or sell a property