About 30 members of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce listened intently early Monday morning inside a meeting room at the Wyndham Hotel as Suffolk Downs President Chip Tuttle described the development to take place at Suffolk Downs if and when the owners there are able to secure a casino license.
City Manager Jay Ash hosted the meeting and moderated it as well.
Tuttle described the full measure of the planned development – a $ 1 billion project with a full redone horse racing track, a new 300 room hotel and the casino itself, housed in a modernistic urban type glass and steel structure that rises seven stories and which will house restaurants and retail shops.
“Everything will be done to make the casino at Suffolk Downs something that will part of the successful mix of venues that makes Boston what it is today – one of the most popular places in the United States to visit,” he told the Chelsea Record following the meeting.
During the meeting, Ash ran a projection screen displaying architects renderings of the central structure and giving views of the ultra landscaped open space surrounding it. In addition, Tuttle spoke at length about transportation issues.
In the general scheme of things, Chelsea and Winthrop are considered surrounding city and town to the casino complex.
As such, Ash has been meeting and speaking with Tuttle for several years in order to establish Chelsea’s place at the mitigation table.
Tuttle said a surrounding city like Chelsea, and its business community, should benefit from the coming casino.
Ash is believed to be making certain that is exactly what will happen.
Tuttle said that Suffolk Downs gambling partner, Caesar’s Palace, would be making efforts to reach out to the business community so the new income streams about to be generated at the casino can be shared with retailers here.
One local businessman, a restaurant owner, said he felt he would not be able to compete with the casino unless all things are equal on the playing field.
“Caesar’s people will be dealing with issues such as these,” Tuttle said. “There will be ways for everyone to share in the casino’s success,” he added.
Traffic issues concerning Chelsea were also a topic and there were several questions about how the casino developers at Suffolk Downs will handle the traffic.
Tuttle said the casino will be spending $40 million to alleviate traffic into and out of East Boston and that Chelsea is part of that overall mix of traffic issues to be dealt with.
Tuttle also told the Chamber members that the Suffolk Downs T-stop will be made commuter friendly , especially on the track side of the stop.
Tuttle made it sound as though the pathway now existing there will become a virtual nature walk so the experience of getting to the casino and departing by the T becomes a minor event.
To that end, he said all Suffolk Downs and casino employees will be given pre-paid T passes to ensure that public transportation is the preferred manner of getting to the track.
Tuttle spoke for about 45 minutes.
He was given a round of applause by nearly everyone present before departing the Wyndham for his next meeting.