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December 19, 2013 By:
Rodeph Shalom, Schools File Petition Against Casino
Congregation Rodeph Shalom and a pair of schools have filed a petition in opposition to the proposed development of a casino on North Broad Street.
Leaders of the Center City Reform congregation had already expressed their opposition to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board at a meeting in May but decided to file the petition with the board on Dec. 12 in part because of continued negotiations between Bart Blatstein’s Tower Investments, the firm behind the proposed casino, and the North Broad Community Coalition, said Larry Spector, the attorney representing the synagogue, Friends Select School and the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School.
The group filed the petition apart from other members of the community coalition — whom Spector predicted could reach an agreement with the developer — because “no amount of light on the street, no amount of security is going to do anything to address the fundamental problem that the casino and the people who go to it don’t mix with the synagogue and schools,” Spector said.
Blatstein’s proposal, known as The Provence, is one of five casino proposals under consideration by the gaming control board and would convert the former home of the Philadelphia Inquirer at 400 N. Broad St. into a $700 million entertainment complex.
The development “will create traffic, parking and security problems that will jeopardize efficient and safe access to” the schools and synagogue, the petition states.
Blatstein could not be reached for comment. Spector acknowledged that Blatstein has spent significant time meeting with representatives of various groups that could be affected by the casino.
“To his credit, he has gone out of his way to soothe the concerns of the people in the community,” Spector said.
The gaming control board is expected to make a decision on awarding the license early next year.