VIDEO: Architect gives tour of Blatstein’s planned North Broad casino

In advance of Tuesday’s state gaming board hearings, where the six operators vying for Philadelphia’s remaining casino license will for the first time present their plans, architect Paul Steelman on Monday laid out his vision for the former Inquirer building on North Broad Street.

The sprawling site was purchased by developer Bart Blatstein for conversion into The Provence Casino and Resort. “Bart Blatstein doesn’t have a vision to open a casino,” Steelman said. “He wanted to make a big, big entertainment complex.”

Plans include a hotel, restaurants, shops and a European-style village spanning across multiple rooftops with a pool club, sky bar and theater space.

Steelman was adamant that the proposed project is not a typical gaming spot. Unlike most resort casinos – in which the building is about three times the size of the gaming floor, The Provence will be about nine times as large.

“Many times as casino designers, we’re designing the building to take advantage of the casino for financial reasons,” Steelman said. He called the planned emphasis on non-gaming activities “our gift to the city of Philadelphia.”

“All the casinos you’re going to see [at the hearings] are designed to keep people in,” Steelman said. “Our building communicates with the exterior and allows people to go onto the streets and flow into the neighborhoods. And when people flow into neighborhoods, what happens? Commerce happens.”

The gaming floor will be naturally lit by large windows and is on the third floor so visitors don’t have to walk through the casino to patronize the complex’s other offerings.

“Many times as casino designers, we’re designing the building to take advantage of the casino for financial reasons,” Steelman said. He called The Provence’s planned emphasis on non-gaming activities “our gift to the city of Philadelphia.”

The casino’s main entrance will open onto Vine Street with an elaborate garden atrium. “This isn’t stepping into a smoky, dark building,” Steelman said. “This is stepping into something beautiful that makes you feel good.”

 

Homage to history

 

Steelman said it’s important to respect the building’s storied history.

It was once owned by publishing giant Walter Annenberg, whose office is being turned into an executive hotel suite. “We hope this and some of the suites on [the 12th] floor will hearken back to the historic context of this great man,” Steelman said.

Annenberg in the mid-30s purchased The Philadelphia Inquirer. Steelman said creators have been throwing around dining space names paying homage to the paper, as well.

Some of the possibilities are a coffee shop or restaurant named “Ink” or “Funnies” and a bar called “Scandals.”

“I think it should be a fun play,” he said. “People will remember they’re in a historical building, yet it has a renewed use.”

 

Rolling the dice

 

Steelman said that other features – such as the iconic tower and a globe light hanging in the lobby – will be untouched. “We are going to respect this city like you cannot believe,” he said.

Steelman said that, if chosen for a license, Blatstein plans to have a series of public tours and in-depth conversations with neighbors so their input can play a part in the complex’s development.

As far as the team’s chances at today’s hearings, Steelman was confident. “I think our application is very strong, very good for the city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania and a very good reuse of a historical building.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

Season 11’s top four dancers gave their final performances before America’s Favorite Dancers are announced next week.

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

NFL

Mario Manningham on the bubble as Giants play…

Former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham hopes his second go-around with Big Blue doesn’t end with Saturday’s final cut day.

NFL

Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.