New Hampshire Casino's Plans for Expansion Run into Trouble

A New Hampshire casino with big expansion plans is now facing a big problem. The New Hampshire House of Representatives defeated a proposal to grant the rights to a significant redevelopment of the Hampton Beach Casino last Thursday by a resounding margin.

The Hampton Beach Casino Hotel in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. (Source: Google Maps by WCYY)

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The legislation, which would have authorized the Hampton Board of Selectmen to close D Street in order to facilitate the expansion, had been incorporated as an amendment to House Bill 1215, a broader bill concerning development approval processes. It would have empowered the Hampton board to authorize the closure of a specific section of D Street after holding a meeting with various municipal boards.

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State Senator Debra Altschiller and State Representative Chris Muns collaborated on the amendment to HB 1215. Representative Joe Alexander, who authored a summary of the Committee of Conference report on the bill, expressed his belief that the project would be a boon to the economy. "This would lead to millions of dollars in economic growth in the region," Alexander wrote.

This closure would have paved the way for leasing the casino property to developers for as many as 99 years. Under current state laws, New Hampshire municipalities are only authorized to lease city-owned properties for a maximum of five years without a vote by local residents.

The proposed redevelopment project for the Hampton Beach Casino property is a massive undertaking with an estimated price tag of $600 million. Plans for the project include the construction of a convention center, a significant expansion of the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, a new 500-room hotel and a parking garage.

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Opposition Remains Strong

Proponents of the project have argued that closing D Street would be instrumental in revitalizing the Hampton Beach boardwalk commercial region. They also point out that it would generate millions of dollars in economic growth for the region.

Opponents of the legislation argued that circumventing a vote by the entire community of Hampton regarding such a significant project was unacceptable. Representative Kelley Potenza, while acknowledging the potential merits of the project itself, expressed strong reservations about the decision-making process.

Despite passing the New Hampshire Senate unanimously, the proposal met fierce opposition in the House. It voted overwhelmingly against the amended bill by a margin of 261 to 102.

While the outcome in the House is a setback for the redevelopment initiative, it is not necessarily the end of the road. The conversation about the future of Hampton Beach and its potential for growth continues, with community leaders and stakeholders looking for ways to achieve their goals while addressing the concerns that led to the bill's rejection. The vision for a revitalized Hampton Beach remains alive, albeit on an uncertain path forward.


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