Has Steve Wynn made the City of Everett an offer it can’t refuse? We’ll find out June 22, when residents will be asked to approve the $1 billion casino project in a city-wide vote. If they give the thumbs-up, then it’s up to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to choose between a Wynn casino in Everett, a Caesars casino at nearby Suffolk Downs and a Foxwoods casino in Milford for the Boston region's only casino license.
Rebuffed by Foxboro town leaders and citizens in late 2011 when he proposed a casino at Gillette Stadium, Wynn is taking no chances this time around. Details of the community host agreement, required by the gaming legislation, were released yesterday.
If the project gets the license, Wynn will pay the city a special $30 million Community Enhancement Fee, payable in three installments: $5 million within 30 days after construction begins, $12.5 million on or before the anniversary of the first payment and the remaining $12.5 million on or before the second anniversary. The funds will be used by the city for capital improvement projects as it sees fit.
Once the casino opens, it will pay Everett an annual Community Impact Fee of $5 million, paid quarterly and increasing by 2.5 percent annually. Wynn will also make an annual payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) of $20 million, also paid quarterly and increasing by 2.5 percent annually. Both amounts are based on the current proposed size of the project and could be subject to negotiation if that changes. These annual payments are specified as an alternative to real and personal property taxes that would otherwise be due, and are designed to “achieve certainty” for both parties. Should they not receive state approval to structure payments in this fashion, the city will assess real and personal property taxes as required by Massachusetts law.
The agreement also specifies that the construction project will use union labor and draw from local chapters to the extent possible. For permanent casino employees, there is also a stipulation that Wynn will give “reasonable preference” to qualified city residents.
Wynn will pay for all required utility upgrades to service the casino and will cover necessary transportation and other infrastructure improvements. Certain other contributions and funds are also outlined in the agreement.
Meanwhile, Suffolk Downs and partner Caesars Entertainment have been busy drumming up local support for their $1 billion project in East Boston, recently establishing a local business partnership program and setting up community days to give residents opportunities to learn about the proposal. Much less buzz is coming from the Foxwoods/Crossroads project in Milford.