SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 9, 2013

Few details on slots parlor plan

DANVERS — Four selectmen met with an official from a casino developer interested in siting a slots parlor at the Liberty Tree Mall, but selectmen say they didn’t get many specifics.

The developer, The Cordish Companies of Baltimore, Md., also did not commit to a Danvers site.

Town Manager Wayne Marquis said selectmen and town officials met with Jeff Snyder, a project manager for Cordish, individually and in pairs to avoid violating the open meeting laws. Selectman Mike Powers was unable to attend.

“It was kind of a meet and greet,” said Selectman Dan Bennett, who said a public meeting is tentatively scheduled for March 5, if Cordish is still interested.

Board members gained some insight: A slots parlor would have a capacity of 2,500 people and up to 1,250 slots, including so-called electronic table games that do not require a dealer, selectmen said.

Selectmen said they were told the former Sports Authority building at the back of the mall, at 50,000 square feet, could accommodate a slots parlor that could employ 700 people, without need for an expansion.

During this stage of the application process, Cordish officials do not have to name a site, and it has not yet told the state what kind of license, casino or slots, it intends to pursue.

“They have not yet confirmed with us,” Massachusetts Gaming Commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said in an email.

“They still have the basic threshold decision: is this something we are going to do or not,” Marquis said.

Danvers is being eyed for a slots-only facility, Marquis said, not a casino. Danvers is also not the only location in the state the company is eyeing.

“It was a good meeting,” said Selectman Gardner Trask. “This is really an exploratory discussion.”

Trask said he asked about parking, traffic and infrastructure but got few details. One thing Trask does not want to see is more traffic on Constitution Lane, a back entrance to the mall that leads to residential streets.

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