Tribes update East Windsor casino drawings, seek zoning approvals

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East Windsor — Engineers and architects' representatives sketched details Wednesday night of the casino the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes expect to start building here in the fall.

The town's Planning and Zoning Commission, which conducted a sparsely attended public hearing, must approve a site plan for the project and issue a special-use permit before construction can begin. Developers also will have to secure building permits. No action on the tribes' submissions was expected following the hearing.

Earlier in the day, MMCT Venture, the tribal partnership formed to pursue the casino, released new renderings of the $300 million project.

Robert Maynard, the East Windsor first selectman, said he’s "very confident" the project will move forward, given recent progress on the approvals front.

While the federal government has acknowledged that the Mohegan Tribe’s relevant gaming agreement with the state is in effect, the Department of the Interior has yet to similarly acknowledge the Mashantuckets’ amended agreement.

“I’m encouraged by that,” Maynard said of Interior’s action on the Mohegan amendment. “I can’t understand why one and not the other.”

Delays in securing the federal approvals have hampered the project, which the tribes are pursuing as a hedge against the impact of MGM Springfield, a nearby Massachusetts facility scheduled to open in less than three months. MGM Springfield is expected to siphon business from the tribes’ respective southeastern Connecticut casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

In releasing the new renderings, MMCT announced that it expects to begin construction in East Windsor in the fall, with the casino’s opening tentatively scheduled for the spring of 2020. The nearly 200,000-square-foot facility is to include roughly 2,000 slot machines and 60 table games, as well as restaurants, a food court and a VIP lounge.

Drawings presented Wednesday night depicted a single-story casino building connected to a five-deck parking garage with spaces for more than 300 vehicles.

The tribes have cleared the site, off Exit 45 of Interstate 91, razing an abandoned Showcase Cinemas building.

“From the start, we pledged to create a world class facility that will be a draw for people throughout the entire region,” Rodney Butler, the Mashantucket chairman, said in the MMCT statement. “These renderings help bring to life our vision for this site, and we thank the town for working with us every step of the way through the local approval process.”

The tribes have said their goal is to create at least 650 jobs for Hartford-area residents. 

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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