Potential Sands’ Buyer Unveils Plans For Bethlehem Steel Property
The deal isn’t even done, but the Alabama gaming outfit in the process of buying Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem has big plans to enhance the roughly $1 billion gambling complex that sits on old Bethlehem Steel land. Executives at Wind Creek Hospitality met with the media this week to introduce themselves and potential plans, should the Alabama gaming outfit get regulatory approval to buy it. Here are five takeaways: More room at the inn After closing the deal, Wind Creek hopes to begin construction immediately on a $90 million, 300-room hotel. It would be the second hotel at the property. The current hotel has an annual occupancy rate of 95 percent, which makes the project a no-brainer. The hotel would be open two years after the deal closes. No. 2 Machine Shop The next big investment would be a $100 million in the storied but weathered No. 2 Machine Shop. At a third-of- a-mile long, the former Bethlehem Steel building had once been among the longest industrial buildings in the country. The vacant building had once been considered for part of a much larger National Museum of Industrial History concept when the museum was envisioned as the driver of development before gaming was legalized in Pennsylvania. Later, after the Sands opened, the shop was considered to be redeveloped for Bass Pro Shops. That project since has been shelved. The property is part of the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone, which allows owners to pay off construction loans with certain local and state taxes if the developer brings in new business to Pennsylvania or expands an existing one. A water park? A water park is among the non-gaming concepts being considered at No. 2 Machine shop or another part of the 124-acre property. That concept is less defined than the hotel project. Wind Creek’s plan indicates they’re looking to diversify the Bethlehem property’s offerings beyond the 150,709-square-foot casino floor as the Northeast gambling market gets increasingly crowded. New jobs A $190 million expansion would mean hundreds of jobs. The hotel alone would bring 400 and executives estimated the redevelopment of No. 2 Machine Shop could mean “a couple hundred.” And development begets more development. Right now, there are 2,500 jobs at the Sands property. “You could have 5,000 people working on this site in the not too distant future when it’s all developed out,” said Sands Bethlehem President and COO Brian Carr, who plans to stay on once the deal closes. A new name With a change in ownership would come a change in the name of the gaming facility. The new facility would be called Wind Creek Bethlehem. Wind Creek would replace the Sands, emblazoned in neon red across Steel’s old ore bridge near Route 412 and the Minsi Trail Bridge in south Bethlehem.