The new head of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has a message for Foxwoods Casino: We're not going to wait forever for a casino plan.
During a Philadelphia visit yesterday, Gregory C. Fajt, former chief of staff to Gov. Rendell, said Foxwoods had indicated that it could be "a couple of months" before it finalizes a location.
The investor group, which has asked regulators for a license extension, could decide to switch its site to the old Strawbridge & Clothier building in Center City or stay put on the Delaware River waterfront in South Philadelphia.
Fajt said the board was willing to "give them some time" to devise a plan, "but we don't have unlimited patience."
Under its slots license, Foxwoods was supposed to have a casino operating by now. This month, the investors petitioned the board for more time.
Though Foxwoods wants to move its project off the waterfront to the Strawbridge building, it still does not have a lease for the property at Eighth and Market Streets.
Fajt made his remarks while touring the SugarHouse site in Northern Liberties/Fishtown during a two-day visit to Southeastern Pennsylvania casinos. He also checked in on the new Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Philadelphia Park in Bensalem, and Harrah's in Chester.
A skeleton crew is working on the SugarHouse site, moving timbers from an old pier into a shredder. Workers have staked out the corners of the 106,000-square-foot slots parlor with orange barrels.
Before foundation work can begin, SugarHouse will have to submit a new plan of development to the city Planning Commission. It will do so at a hearing on June 24, said SugarHouse spokeswoman Leigh Whitaker.
SugarHouse hopes to be operating a slots parlor by next spring.
The timetable for Foxwoods is less clear. Previously, the partners thought they could open at the Strawbridge site around the same time.
That is doubtful, Fajt said.
"I don't think they will be up in early 2010," he said. "Later in the year? Maybe."
Asked what he thought of a downtown casino location, which would be the first in Pennsylvania, Fajt said he did not have an opinion. But the impact on traffic and parking would become "more of an issue," he said, though "not insurmountable."