KG Urban is a brownfield developer NOT a casino operator.
City Council passes resolution showing state gaming officials unified support for $650 million waterfront proposal
By Mike Lawrence
Posted Apr. 14, 2015 at 2:01 AM
Posted Apr. 14, 2015 at 2:01 AM
NEW BEDFORD — A date for a citywide vote on the $650 million casino and hotel project proposed for New Bedford’s waterfront had not been set or suggested to the New Bedford City Council as of Monday as the clock continued to tick for the developer’s application.
A vote in the city would have to occur between May 18 and June 17 to comply with state law, which requires a vote be held between 60 and 90 days after a Host Community Agreement is signed. The city signed its agreement with New York-based developer KG Urban Enterprises on March 19.
“I have heard nothing on the referendum vote,” Council President Brian K. Gomes said Monday, indicating KG Urban had not yet proposed a potential date.
Activity on the casino front has been in a holding pattern this month, as KG Urban works to secure equity investment for the project ahead of a May 4 deadline set by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. A KG Urban spokesman could not be reached Monday.
The council passed several casino-related motions Thursday night in City Hall, though, including a resolution put forward by Gomes to express to the Gaming Commission that the council has unified support for the New Bedford casino project.
Gomes’ resolution cited the benefits of an estimated $50 million environmental cleanup that KG Urban would be obligated to fund on the project’s site, an abandoned NStar power plant off Route 18 on MacArthur Drive, just southeast of downtown.
Support for the resolution was unanimous. The City Council also unanimously approved two motions proposed by Councilor-at-large David Alves. One asked KG Urban representatives to appear before the council’s Appointments and Briefings Committee, to outline their plan for the 27-acre project, which also would include a conference center, public marina, $10 million harbor walk, commercial fishing berths, retail and more.
Alves’ other motion asked KG Urban to work with the council’s Gaming/Casinos Committee to hold “a series of meetings throughout New Bedford, to present and respond to local residents as to the economic benefits of the future casino…and to have developers listen and respond to the concerns of our residents.”
The casino would bring at least $12.5 million to the city in annual payments from KG Urban, plus a $4.5 million up-front payment and additional tax revenues, should city voters approve the project and should New Bedford win the sole resort casino license the Gaming Commission can allocate in Southeastern Massachusetts.
Opponents have argued that a casino would hurt downtown businesses, not provide high-paying jobs, escalate personal bankruptcies and drain resources for people already struggling financially.
Local debate on the proposal is gradually heating up. The New Bedford Chamber of Commerce asked its members in an email Monday to weigh in on the project, so the chamber could best speak on their behalf.
While the Leadership SouthCoast organization has talked about hosting a public forum, former Standard-Times Associate Publisher and Editor Bob Unger, chairman of Leadership SouthCoast’s board, said Monday that those talks hadn’t yet solidified.