Friday, November 6, 2009

The Latest News On Possible Hotel On Mohegan's Pennsylvania Property

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This installment of The Tribe In The Media is an article in Pennsylvania's Time Leader newspaper on a possible hotel at the Mohegan racetrack-slot parlor in Pennsylvania.

November 5

Lot eyed for casino’s proposed hotel
First public hearing for Mohegan Sun’s 300-room conference center/hotel set for Nov. 16.
By Jerry Lynott
Times Leader
November 5, 2009

PLAINS TWP. – Right now, there’s not much there except some pavement, landscaping and room for approximately 325 cars.

The parking area west of the main entrance of the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is being eyed as the site for a 300-room hotel and conference center.

A preliminary land development plan includes an architectural drawing of a nine-story hotel and accompanying 25,000 square feet of convention space and meeting rooms.

Plains Township Zoning Hearing Board will hold a meeting at 8 p.m. on Nov. 16 to consider Mohegan Sun’s request for a variance that allows it to connect the proposed hotel and conference center to the adjacent 300,000-square-foot casino.

The plan, submitted to the township last month, is the start of the process to obtain permits for the project, said Bobby Soper, president and chief executive officer of Mohegan Sun.

Soper Wednesday said that there has been no decision to build and stressed the drawing is conceptual. Once Mohegan officials have an understanding of what they want the final design to be, they can move forward, he said.

“If and when that happens, that can easily be altered,” said Soper of the architectural drawing.

Talk of the proposed hotel has picked up with the debate over the addition of table games in Pennsylvania casinos.

The state Legislature plugged $200 million revenue from the games into the 2009-10 budget. Gov. Ed Rendell tasked lawmakers with presenting him a table games bill before Nov. 10.

Mohegan Sun has been planning to fit the games within its casino that now holds more than 2,460 slot machines.

A traffic impact analysis and parking study done for the proposed hotel and conference center included the introduction of table games and concluded there is enough space to accommodate additional parking even with the loss of the 325 spots, according to a letter Connolly Engineering Inc. of Kingston submitted to the township.

Connolly also asked that the township exempt Mohegan Sun from conducting an environmental impact study for the proposed project

“It is Mohegan Sun’s belief … that the project will not have a negative impact on the natural environment and the quality of life throughout Plains Township and its environs,” wrote Connolly.

The hotel, including the revised lobby area, will have a building footprint of approximately 82,750 square feet, according to the preliminary plan.

At 300 rooms, it would be the largest in Luzerne County. The nearby Woodlands Inn & Resort on state Route 315 has 179 rooms. The Ramada Hotel in Wilkes-Barre has 177 rooms. At 156 rooms the East Mountain Inn, also in Plains Township, rounds out the top three hotels in terms of the number of rooms.

JCJ Architecture Inc. of Hartford, Conn., which designed the $208 million Project Sunrise casino that opened last year at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, prepared the site drawings for the proposed hotel and conference center.

The firm still has to compete for the job if casino management decides to build, said Brian Davis, a Wyoming Seminary graduate, Dallas Township native and lead designer for Project Sunrise. He described the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority that owns the casino as a very good and very demanding client.

“This is intended to be a casino/hotel that is not only extremely convenient and has all the amenities, it’s also one that is going to be part of a memorable experience,” Davis said.

An outside developer will build the structure and lease the land from Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, according to the preliminary plan.