MGM Resorts International, the gambling and entertainment giant that has scouted Atlanta for a $1 billion-plus resort, is shaking up its development plans for a resort in Massachusetts, according to a report on the website of the (Springfield) Republican.
MGM is dropping plans for a 25-story glass hotel tower in downtown Springfield in lieu of a six-story hotel building attached to a casino and mixed-use development, according to a news release. Apartments once planned on-site will be shifted to a parcel nearby.
In a news release, MGM said the design overhaul was driven by historic property use requirements, “construction market trends,” discussions with Springfield leaders and a revised opening date that extends construction by one year. The project is expected to open in 2018.
MGM Springfield will still contain the same number of hotel rooms and remain at least an $800 million project as originally planned, the paper reported. The company plans to still employ 3,000 people in the finished resort, according to the Republican.
The Massachusetts casino resort is smaller than what MGM is building in Maryland and is scouting for in metro Atlanta, MGM officials have said.
MGM Resorts is the behind-the-scenes power player helping the push for casino gambling in Georgia. The Las Vegas company helped craft the legislation that would lead to a change in the state’s constitution if approved by a super-majority of lawmakers and a majority of Georgia voters.
The legislation calls for up to six casinos across the state, including two in metro Atlanta.
Earlier this month, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution visited MGM’s $1.3 billion resort project under construction near Washington, D.C., and reported on Maryland’s experience expanding to full Las Vegas-style gambling.
Georgia lawmakers held study committee hearings last week to examine how casinos and horse racing might provide fresh revenue for the popular Georgia Lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship.
MGM will present the new design to Massachusetts gaming regulators on Thursday, the release said. The design changes come as MGM Springfield will face competition from the Native American tribes that manage the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casino resorts in Connecticut, which are planning to develop another casino in a joint-venture not far from Springfield, the Republican reported.
MGM Springfield was previously granted a one-year delay because of an overhaul of nearby I-91, the Republican reported. Beyond historic preservation interests, a mid-rise facility is likely something that could be built faster overall than a 25-story high-rise.
In the news release, MGM Springfield President and CEO Michael Mathis said:
“We have never lost sight of how important it is to integrate our development and its unique design needs with this historic New England downtown. We think the changes along Main Street and this new layout is more in line with a true downtown mixed-use development that will make MGM Springfield the premier urban resort in the industry.”
The debate over casino gambling is likely to become one of the more high-profile issues in the upcoming Georgia legislative session, which starts in January.
During the legislative study committee on HOPE and the potential of gambling revenue, MGM Resorts Chairman Jim Murren gave lawmakers a glimpse of his company and the project in Maryland.
The company has said MGM National Harbor could be a prototype of sorts for MGM has said it might bring to Atlanta. Click this link to see video of what MGM National Harbor in Maryland will look like.