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MGC hears new East of Broadway proposal

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  After being on hold since the beginning of the year, the revised plan for East of Broadway was recently presented to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC).

  During the commission’s February 10 meeting, Christopher Gordon, president of WynnDevelopment, said the size of the events center has been scaled back from 1,800 seats to 999 seats. “We think a theater of this size can be a major addition to the cultural scene in Massachusetts,” he said. “We think this can really be a gem.”

  In addition, Gordon spoke highly of the Lower Broadway Master Plan that was created by city officials in 2013 and the Urban Renewal Plan that followed in 2015. “They were really trying to make sure this district came alive,” he said.

  Gordon said the development would feature 20,000 square feet of retail space, the possibility of three hotels and seven restaurants as well as a parking garage with 2,900 spaces. He said the first phase of the project would include the construction of the events center, the parking garage and a much-needed pedestrian bridge over Lower Broadway.

  “If you’re a pedestrian, it’s not the most comfortable place to cross the road,” said Gordon, adding that the traffic flow is frequently interrupted with so many pedestrians crossing that section of Lower Broadway.

  MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein and MGC Commissioner Bradford Hill raised concerns about individuals under the age of 21 using the pedestrian bridge to get into the Mémoire nightclub.

  In response, Gordon assured them that anyone who is underage would be stopped by security. “You’re not going to get in,” he said. “You’re going to get checked twice: once as you try to get into the building and once as you try to get into Mémoire.”

  However, Hill was still uncertain about the location of the bridge. “What I’m wrestling with is we’re connecting a bridge to a gaming area,” he said.

  Hill also questioned the level of safety in the parking garage. He said there have been reports of patrons leaving their children alone in their vehicle while they gamble at the casino. “It’s a tough one to listen to but it does happen,” said Hill.

  Encore Boston Harbor Senior Vice President Jacqui Krum said the casino is firmly committed to ensuring the safety of its patrons. She also said Encore patrons are not likely park in the garage. “We do not believe that this garage will be used by visitors to Encore Boston Harbor,” said Krum, adding that it would likely be used by patrons visiting the events center or staying at one of the hotels.

  As the development would be located across the street from Encore, the question previously arose as to whether or not it would be part of the casino. It was this question that prompted Wynn Development to put the brakes on the project last month.

  However, Attorney Samuel M. Tony Starr, counsel for WynnDevelopment, was able to lay that matter to rest. “The proposed development is not part of the gaming establishment,” he said, adding that a four-part analysis was used to make that determination. “East of Broadway, LLC will be functioning as a typical landlord.”

  The commission will hold a public hearing on the project on February 28.

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