Harrah’s/Forest City gain slots support

Jul 25, 2006 5:11 AM

Support from within the community is expected to help the efforts of Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) and partner, Forest City Enterprises, in gaining a casino license at Station Square in Pittsburgh, Pa.

The partners submitted one of three applications for the slots license to be granted by the Pennsylvania Gaming Board. Also applying are Don Barden’s PITG Gaming LLC and Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. (ISLE).

On Friday, South Side Local Development Co., a neighborhood nonprofit organization in Pittsburgh, announced it was endorsing the Station Square proposal after accepting a Forest City offer of $150,000 a year for 10 years, if the partners are granted the gaming license, and $50,000 for five years if they are unsuccessful in their license appeal.

As part of the deal, a non-profit spokesman said, Forest City will help promote South Side businesses, refrain from billboard advertising and address potential traffic problems that might be created by the casino.

"It was not about the funding," he said. "It’s really multifaceted."

Station Square was acquired by Forest City in 1994 and has been developed into one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.

The urban mixed-use residential and entertainment community includes ground floor retail, sidewalk dining and café eateries. Under Harrah’s gaming plans, the property will be enlarged to house 3,000 slots as well as adding 200 rooms to a nearby Sheraton Station square hotel and 1,250 residential condominium units.

Forest City said it had recognized the transportation problem and had worked with both an engineering firm and a consulting firm in locating the casino.

"Its location," the company said, "is uniquely positioned to absorb the enhanced visitation a casino will bring from a transportation standpoint. It location on the west side of Station Square allows for the best integration into the overall site and offers the only location that benefits from all modes of transportation."