Tuesday financial deadline, Wednesday forum, Thursday meeting all on slate for $650 million proposal
NEW BEDFORD — State gaming officials and the developer behind New Bedford’s casino bid declined to comment Monday on the status of a crucial financial deal that could move the $650 million proposal forward to a public vote June 23 or, if not signed, kill the entire deal before voters have their say.
Andrew Paven, spokesperson for New York-based KG Urban Enterprises, said developers would have no comment on the status of their key financial deal ahead of Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission set that deadline May 28, telling KG Urban operating partner Andrew Stern that failure to present a signed term sheet would be a “guillotine” for KG Urban’s application to build a casino, hotel and conference center development on New Bedford’s waterfront.
Commission spokesman Elaine Driscoll, asked Monday if commission enforcement staff had yet received a signed term sheet, said the state would not comment, either, until after Tuesday’s deadline.
KG Urban has been working to close a financial deal with its potential primary investor, Pennsylvania-based Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc (GLPI).
The commission likely will respond Thursday in Boston to whatever happens Tuesday.
Stern expressed confidence in the negotiations last week, saying “we’re going to have a term sheet” by Tuesday.
The financial issue didn't come up at a public casino forum Thursday evening at Roosevelt Middle School in the South End, where Stern presented site plans and answered questions about traffic and other concerns from about 30 attendees.
The next casino forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center downtown. The last forum scheduled so far is 6 to 8 p.m. June 17 at Normandin Middle School in the North End.
Wednesday’s forum is sponsored by Leadership SouthCoast and SouthCoast Media Group. The June 17 forum is sponsored by the city.
Casino discussions have been spreading outside of the forums as the June 23 vote nears. Last week at New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks!, during an event about efforts to create a collaborative art space downtown, longtime downtown advocate and property owner Jean Bennett expressed opposition to the casino proposal. She told a small crowd at the museum that she thought it was “disgusting” to propose “cutting off downtown from the waterfront” with a casino that would increase traffic on Route 18.
Stern, Mayor Jon Mitchell and other casino supporters have said the development would increase connections between downtown and the waterfront, though, citing the potential for spillover of restaurant patrons and shoppers.
The Host Community Agreement the city and KG Urban signed March 19 caps restaurant space inside the casino, requires the development to offer gift certificates and other incentives to visit downtown businesses, and creates a partnership with the Zeiterion.
A Brockton proposal by Mass Gaming & Entertainment is KG Urban’s only remaining competition for the single resort casino license the commission can allocate in Southeastern Massachusetts.
Brockton voters narrowly approved Mass Gaming’s $650 million proposal for a Brockton Fairgrounds site May 12, in that city’s referendum.