Casino Developer Locks up New Bedford Waterfront Site

By Steve Decosta
NEW BEDFORD — A New York City developer has secured options on the old NStar power plant on the city’s waterfront for the development of a casino, state Sen. Mark C.W. Montigny confirmed Thursday.
“They contacted us in the last 24 hours to say they had signed the options,” Montigny said of KG Urban Enterprises, which lists an address of 125 Park Ave.
Montigny said he did not know the terms of the agreement but said the options are contingent on the state approving casino gaming and the developer being able to acquire a license for the site. Company spokesmen did not return numerous calls seeking more information.
A slide show on the Web site for KG Urban Enterprises indicates the old power plant would be restored and converted into a glistening new casino called Cannon Street Station. The Web site also shows drawings of a waterfront conference center and hotel, harbor walk, shopping and dining arcade, pedestrian connection to downtown and a renovated Route 18.
The company describes itself as “an equity development boutique specializing in the targeted redevelopment of urban brownfields and industrial waterfront sites, and in the conversion and commercial re-use of the vintage industrial buildings that often sit on these sites. In particular, KG focuses on the legalization of casino gaming in virgin territory as an engine which can make the redevelopment of these sites and buildings financially viable.”
Earlier in the decade, when the site was being considered for a $135 million oceanarium, environmental cleanup costs were estimated to be at least $6 million.
Two weeks ago, when KG confirmed it was negotiating to acquire the property owned by NStar and Sprague Energy, spokesman Andrew Paven said, “We have a firm understanding of what’s in the ground and what that means.”
Mayor Scott W. Lang said he has seen plans for the casino and appreciates that the developers are “tailoring it so that it meets the urban purposes, using the surrounding area in a complementary way.”
“What I’ve seen is that they intend to reconfigure the power plant into a casino floor, put in a number of eateries, but nothing fancy, and build a hotel and a parking garage.”
KG Urban Enterprises lists one other casino development on its Web site. In a joint venture with the Las Vegas Sands Corp., the firm renovated an abandoned steel plant in Bethlehem, Pa., for a casino that opened in June.
KG Urban Enterprises is registered with the Secretary of State’s Office as a foreign limited liability company. Its principals are listed as managers Barry M. Gosin and James D. Kuhn, who also are CEO and president, respectively, of Newmark Knight Frank, a New York-based real estate services firm.
The KG Web site says “Andrew Stern oversees the day-to-day operations of KG Urban Enterprises … initiates KG’s gaming and redevelopment projects, and hires and oversees the work of each project’s legal, design, transactional, political, analytical, branding and marketing teams. Mr. Stern also is the primary point of contact with the gaming industry in KG’s efforts to create joint ventures to pursue KG gaming redevelopment projects.”
KG’s proposal is the second plan to develop a casino on the New Bedford waterfront. Northeast Resorts of East Longmeadow holds options on about 35 acres in the Hicks-Logan neighborhood just south of Interstate 195 where it plans to develop a $1 billion, 2½-story, 230,000-square-foot casino that would include 4,000 slot machines and 150 table games. Flanked by a 600-room hotel tower, it eventually would employ more than 4,000 permanent workers, Northeast Resorts has said.
The development of any casino in New Bedford is highly speculative at this point. First, the state must approve casino gaming. While the Legislature has turned back any recent efforts to expand gambling, the political landscape has changed recently, with Gov. Deval Patrick, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray all voicing their support. A legislative hearing on a variety of gaming bills was held in October, and DeLeo has promised a vote on the issue early next year.
But even if expanded gaming is approved, there certainly will be limits on the number and location of any proposed casinos, and any applicants will be subjected to a rigorous licensing procedure.
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