Foxwoods’ Fall River project could get June vote

A Foxwoods partnership’s plan to put a $750 million resort casino in southeastern Massachusetts could come before voters in Fall River in early June, a city official said Thursday.

Unveiled at the end of January, the project has the backing of the city’s administration, including Mayor Will Flanagan and Kenneth Fiola Jr., vice president of the Fall River Office of Economic Development.

“It’s shaping up very favorably,” Fiola said of the Foxwoods plan.

In the last two weeks, the Foxwoods partnership, headed by Scott Butera, Foxwoods Resort Casino’s president and chief executive officer, has secured options on a 30-acre site for the project and presented the plan at a public hearing.

The mayor hopes to present a signed “host community agreement” to the City Council on April 8, Fiola said.

The council could then set a referendum for early June.

If voters approve the deal, Foxwoods will submit a final, detailed application to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The deadline for final applications is July 23, which Fiola said Foxwoods is prepared to meet.

Another applicant, KG Urban Enterprises of New York City, which has proposed a southeastern Massachusetts project in New Bedford, wants the deadline extended to Oct. 23. The Fall River City Council voted 8-1 this week against the extension.

Fiola said he believes most of the city’s residents support the Foxwoods project and that the host community agreement will answer any lingering questions about the benefits of the project. Those benefits, he said, include the creation of temporary and permanent jobs and up-front and continuing payments to the city to help offset the casino’s impact on municipal services and fund related infrastructure improvements.

The proposed casino site, off Route 24, is home to the mostly vacant New Harbour Mall and an adjacent parcel occupied by two other retail outlets. The existing structures would be razed to make way for the casino project, which calls for 3,000 slot machines and 90 table games, a 300-room hotel, an entertainment venue, retail space and more than 10 bars and restaurants.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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