CBS 3 Springfield is getting exclusive new insight on plans for a North End casino.
One local casino partner is envisioning a resort casino that would be larger than Monarch Place, Tower Square and the Basketball Hall of Fame, combined.
For the first time Peter Picknelly is revealing his vision for a North End casino, including how the location around his bus depot could impact traffic and crime and what this development could mean for the future of Springfield.
Picknelly says 13 acres in Springfield's North End along Main Street could one day be transformed into a billion-dollar local revenue engine.
"It's a huge deal for the city, it's kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said.
Picknelly and Penn National's vision includes his Peter Pan bus depot, The Republican newspaper property and some riverfront property. The site would feature 300,000 square feet of gaming and could provide as many as 3,000 jobs to locals.
"It is perfect for our community. It's a mix of old Hollywood and new Hollywood; it's vibrant, it's exciting and I think it's the exact product Springfield needs and would flourish here," Picknelly said.
In the plans, the Peter Pan bus depot would be moved to nearby Union Station, which is already in the works to be transformed into an Amtrak, bus and local rail transportation hub.
"The connectivity of Union Station could not be any better...we're looking at bringing in people from New York City, from Hartford, from Boston, from Worcester to Springfield," he said.
But one of the concerns of many residents is exactly what all that activity could do to local traffic flow and how it will affect crime.
Picknelly says studies have shown crime is not a major factor of casino development.
He says the positive of his location is the multiple routs that lead to the North End.
"There's five or six ramps on and off right here, we're not confined to one entrance ramp, one exit ramp," he said.
But the key to Springfield's casino success is a strong partnership with the city's best interest at heart.
Picknelly explains why Penn National Gaming was his choice to continue to support the region.
"We interviewed several casino operators that were interested in Springfield and we settled on Penn Gaming Hollywood Casinos because they share those exact same values that my family does, that our company does," he said.
Part of bringing a casino to the city is also social responsibility.
Picknelly says that is and will continue to be a part of his vision.
"They want to be part of this community and for the long haul, that's what we like most about them," he said.
While the bright lights and ringing of slots might attract people to the city, Picknelly says the local businesses and entertainment will keep them here.
"We use the casino as the core, but we're not concentrating on just a casino and a hotel, we're looking at spawning business activity and renaissance throughout our downtown...they're not just going to come here and then leave, they're going to see all the great things Springfield has to offer and come back, that's what we want to see."
MGM Resorts and Ameristar Casinos are also bidding for a shot at developing in Springfield. The applications for the second and final phase of this process are due Jan. 3.
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