Tito, give me some tissue
SugarHouse Casino celebrated its 1 Year Anniversary and Ashley Hahn from PlanPhilly wrote an article that should have had the song lyrics "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to" embedded in it. In short, more boohooing about the SugarHouse Casino. How original. SugarHouse may have fallen short of expectations as far as revenues collected this year and number of slots versus gaming tables thought to be played. But come on now! How many businesses have made a landslide profit or exceeded revenue projections their very first year? Not many! Regardless of hopeful projections, you do not need to have a PhD to know for a fact that profits are a delayed reward for any new business. Why should expectations be any different for the SugarHouse Casino?
No thanks to Jerry Springer
The negative tone of the article, though factual, informative, and extremely well written, was tiring to me on a personal and intellectual level. It was a lot of the same uninspired anti-casino rhetoric. And what is more disappointing to me in Hahn's article is the way she just grazed over and showed very little gracious reporting when mentioning the presentation of a ceremonial check for $500,000 to the Penn Treaty Special Services District. I mean if some handed me $500,000, I might want to offer a little love in my written article. Even more inflammatory to me and the icing on the cake, the use of a very inflammatory comment quoted from the article about the Pennsylvania casino system by Noah Bierman of the Boston Globe:
“The financial success of Pennsylvania’s casinos was built on the ambitious scope of the effort and the rich profitability of the industry, but also on a foundation of cronyism, patronage, and back-room deals, not to mention overlooked criminal histories and alleged mob ties.”
A very provocative comment, I admit. Certainly gets the Jerry Springer in me wanting more. But to me throwing in that type of comment int the article after mentioning the $500,000 donation from the casino is a clever diversion tactic used to make the article more interesting. I mean it works and all but I want to read Jerry Springer meets Anderson Cooper. Something like that. Tell me something I can work with. Am I alone when I say I want to be part of the Sugar Cure not the Disease?
Being anti is still a gamble
To Hahn's credit she closed her article in an interesting way appealing to my own sentiment about the SugarHouse Casino and its future success and impact on Philadelphia. Hahn clarified perhaps her own personal position in her closing paragraph of the article, "I may not be singing SugarHouse “Happy Birthday,” but its failure also feels like a gamble." In other words being a proponent of the SugarHouses demise and failure is an equal if not more tragic loss to Philadelphia. Is that a chance you want to take? I know I don't.
Giving credit to SugarHouse
SugarHouse was the first to break ground, take the first risk, and throw the first punch if you will at Philly's failing waterfront. That is something that should be acknowledged in a positive light. Let's cut the negative chitchat and discuss some successes in moving forward. There are very few developers that would test the waters at the Delaware Waterfront after witnessing the devastation left by the RE market boom. The Casino stepped up. Let's give some credit where it is due.
Who to look to for inspiration?
Let's look at what is working immediately around the SugarHouse Casino in Fishtown, Northern Liberties, and Old City. There are three inspiring entities that the Casino and the community should examine as they move forward and expand.
First, let's look at Waterfront Square. Waterfront Square is a geographically close example of what could have been more collateral damage for Philly after the Real Estate Bubble burst. Today Waterfront Square represents an exquisite largescale Luxury Real Estate project that has shown resilience and a "Failure Is Not An Option" mentality after faithfully treading water for years. That mentality works and should be adopted by the casino and the community.
Next let's look at Bart Blatstein, a prolific Philadelphia developer. Though always catching a mix bag of kudos and criticisms, his projects and investments are tangible successes that work. The Casino gods and planners should be looking to emulate Blatstein's mastery of commercial and residential Real Estate, his ability to tap into trends, create culture, influence architecture, urban culture, and life-style. These characteristics are gravely needed at SugarHouse.
Race Street Pier
And finally Old City's newest addition, the Race Street Pier is quite literally an oasis. As public green space, the Race Street Pier is a small taste of what can be created along the Delaware River. Much like Penn Treaty Park, well-planned green spaces will play a huge part in reconnecting Philadelphia and her visitors to her majestic riverside. The Race Street Pier's huge success and the continued plans to develop the waterfront are working.
Discover the Philadelphia Waterfront
A Win for Safety at SugarHouse Casino
Meet Your Neighbors: Borrowing a Cup of Sugar