Wynn Calls off Boston Harbor Expansion amid Fight with City

Casino operator Wynn Resorts has announced the suspension of its expansion plans for the Encore Boston Harbor casino located in Everett, MA. This decision comes amid a complex dispute over the financial terms of the expansion, particularly focusing on property taxes and impact fees demanded by the city.

The sign for the Encore Boston Harbor casino resort in Everett, Massachusetts. (Source: Boston.com)

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The initial expansion was set to introduce a dedicated poker room, an additional sports betting lounge and additional amenities aimed at enhancing the guest experience and the casino's competitive edge in the region. Wynn had envisioned a new facility across Broadway from the existing $2.6 billion casino, which opened back in 2019.

Related: Wynn's Encore Boston Harbor to Add Sportsbook, Concert Hall

The proposed development was part of a broader vision to transform the Lower Broadway area into a popular tourist destination, complete with restaurants, hotels, theaters and other facilities. However, the negotiations reached an impasse over the amount Wynn should contribute in property taxes, impact fees, and infrastructure improvements.

The impact fees are a critical aspect of this discussion, as they are designed to offset the costs incurred by the municipality due to the development's impact on local infrastructure, including roads, public services, and utilities. These fees are typically negotiated to ensure that the development does not place an undue burden on the local community. In the case of Wynn, the company has expressed concerns that the terms proposed by the city do not present a financially viable solution, considering the significant investment already made and the anticipated returns.

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Wynn Puts Pressure on Everett

Wynn's decision to suspend the project was communicated during an earnings call, where CEO Craig Billings expressed disappointment but also highlighted the company's responsibility to its shareholders. It was also displayed prominently on the casino's website. With other global development projects in the pipeline, Wynn is poised to redirect the capital initially intended for the Boston expansion to these alternatives.

Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria has publicly supported the expansion project but has emphasized the importance of reaching a deal that serves the best interests of Everett residents. The mayor's stance reflects a commitment to ensuring that the benefits of development are balanced with the community's needs and financial health. However, as negotiations have stalled, both parties are faced with the challenge of finding common ground that reconciles the city's fiscal requirements with Wynn's business objectives.

The suspension of the expansion project has broader implications for the economic development of Everett. The city had been counting on the expansion to further stimulate growth in the entertainment and dining sectors, building upon the success of the original Encore Boston Harbor casino. The halt in the expansion plans not only affects the immediate construction and associated jobs but also raises questions about the future trajectory of development in the area.


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