Wynn Just Bought a Bunch More Land in Everett and You Have to Wonder Why

Friday, August 26, 2016

At some point this past spring, casino mogul Steve Wynn acquired the weed-choked old General Electric property in Everett for an undisclosed sum and an undisclosed purpose.  I’m surprised this move has received so little attention.  

Robert DeSalvio, the person overseeing development of the “Wynn Boston Harbor” casino on the  former Monsanto chemical factory site in Everett, was quoted as saying, “Wynn Resorts supports the city’s vision of the former GE site to further advance the renaissance of Everett.  We look forward to working with the city’s planners in helping to transform this now vacant lot into a more productive use.”
It was revealed at that time that Wynn would be donating three acres of the GE parcel to the city for use as a new park.

Back in the spring, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria was as vague as DeSalvio about the future of the GE site, which comprises at least 40 acres along the banks of the Malden River and has sat, wretched and unused, for more than 20 years.  (I don't know for sure how far the GE site is from the Monsanto site, but it's got to be less than half a mile.)
Immediately, I thought they all must be planning something bigger for the property than a parking lot for casino employees and a warehouse for casino and hotel supplies. 

“Wynn does now own the GE site,” DeMaria confirmed in an interview with a local newspaper.  “We’ve hired Redgate Real Estate Advisors to help us do some development planning down at the GE site.  They are planning to help us with some ideas on how to develop that area…We want to get a pedestrian footbridge down there connecting us to Wellington Station.  That change would really drive property values up off of the Main Street area…”
By the way, DeMaria’s political stock, now that the City of Somerville’s attempt to block the casino has been thwarted, has never been higher.  DeMaria’s improbable-from-the-start, highly difficult, tortuous, multi-year campaign to bring the casino and all its related financial benefits to Everett has ended in a smashing victory.  If Wynn & Co. delivers on everything they’ve promised over the next decades, DeMaria will go down as the most successful mayor in the history of his long-under-appreciated city. 

With offices in Boston and Baltimore, Redgate describes itself as “a strategic real estate investment, development, project management and advisory firm.”  On its website, Redgate says, “We listen to our clients, collectively develop a strategy, and follow with a crafted delivery method to satisfy every client.  We design clear communication protocols from the moment of engagement to facilitate dialogues and foster and mobilize consensus.  We deliver a financially feasible strategy and an implementation plan for each client we serve, reducing risk and extracting the best value.”  Greg Bialecki, who served as Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development in the Governor Deval Patrick administration, is a member of Redgate’s management team.
Redgate’s involvement leads one to infer that the GE site redevelopment may consist of a new office park or apartment complex, with Wynn taking on the role of bankroller/lead developer and maybe using part of the land for a casino back office and supply depot.

(The deal for the GE site, significantly, is enabling Wynn to complete the purchase from the City of Everett of the Line Park on Lower Broadway/Route 99.  The traffic mitigation plan for the casino calls for Wynn to build a ramp off the northbound side of Route 99, which will lead to a new flyover that will take traffic directly to the casino on the other side of the road.  With the flyover, persons travelling north will not have to stop at a light and wait for a signal to turn green before proceeding to the casino.  Parkland may be taken for such a purpose in Massachusetts but must be replaced somewhere else in the jurisdiction.)
I can’t help but think that Wynn is up to something bold and unexpected.  His track record points in that direction.  He could, for example, be planning a golf course.  The site could accommodate a par-three 18-hole course or a normal-size 9-hole course.  If he were to acquire some of the contiguous properties, which include a large vacant lot now owned by a utility and rented to a bus and limo transport company, Wynn could potentially build 18 holes of more or less regular size.

At the Monsanto site, Wynn is building, at a total projected cost of $2 billion-plus, what he has always referred to as a five-star resort casino.  We know he prefers to include golf courses in his resorts.  Not too long ago, he spared no expense to create a plush-green, tree-lined golf course, with an eye-popping waterfall, in the desert beside his new casino on the Las Vegas strip.  To design that course, he turned to Tom Fazio, dubbed by Golf Digest magazine “the country’s preeminent modern-day designer.”   
Of the casino in Everett, Wynn recently said, “The hotel we’re building in Boston is a destination – not a box of slots in a regional casino, but an addition to a city that makes people want to go there and vacation.”  Many vacationers, especially the gambling kind, love to golf.

The GE site is not adjacent to the Mosanto site; however, both are on the water, the inner part of Boston Harbor, and one can travel by boat between them in less than five minutes.
There’s another reason I believe we could see a golf course on the Malden River one day.  A person I know was told by Mayor DeMaria that Wynn was considering, not long ago, the purchase of an industrial site in Everett because he wanted to put a golf course on it.  This site is on the opposite side of Route 99 from the casino, meaning it would not be easy to drive there, but it does have water access and would have been a two-minute boat ride from the casino dock.

People in Everett are now saying how the GE site and the area around it will be “totally different in five years.”  Don’t be surprised if “the renaissance of Everett” features the occasional golf ball flying into the street.   




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