The controversial land deal on lower Broadway slated to hold the new Wynn casino passed papers on Monday, with Wynn purchasing the former Monsanto Chemical property for $35 million from FBT Everett.
On Tuesday, City leaders had planned to celebrate the milestone at a gathering on the property, but the extreme cold weather drove the celebration indoors.
Numerous members of Everett United, as well as elected officials and a herd of Boston news media members crowded the Council Chambers for the jovial ceremony – where Mayor Carlo DeMaria gave Wynn’s Bob DeSalvio a new curbside trash bin as a gag gift to welcome them as new property owners in the City.
The mayor referenced the Lower Broadway Planning process that started in 2008 and how the Wynn project unexpectedly fit right into those plans. He said it has been a long road, but one that he’s glad the City took.
“A lot of people weren’t on board at first,” he said. “There was a lot of hesitation in the city about a casino. Many on the City Council were questioning it. My wife and I had long conversations about it every day…I wanted to build something great for the city and soon this became a no-brainer. At one point, [former] Gov. [William] Weld took me aside and told me I had to do it and he laid out the reasons why. He was right.”
DeSalvio said there was nothing that could stop Wynn from developing the resort now that the land had been purchased and cleared.
“With this land transaction and our arrival, nothing gets in our way from moving forward,” he said. “We look forward to getting started with remediation. We know how important that clean up is to you. We know how important it is for you to reconnect with the waterfront. We’re going to be taking the next six months to make sure that site is cleaned up and we’re coming out of the ground this summer and opening late 2017.”
Wynn now has full ownership and control over the property and company officials said that clears the way for site cleanup and construction to move forward. That will likely take place after permitting is completed in the next few months.
Wynn officials in a press release on Monday said the purchase was the most significant advancement on the project since being awarded the license last September.
Added DeSalvio, “Today, we hit the ‘go’ button and we’re not stopping until a spectacular Wynn Resort with a new waterfront public park for all to access and enjoy is completed.”
The long-vacant property has been and continues to be the source of a great amount of criticism about the Wynn project.
On Monday – the same day the sale was finalized – the City of Boston filed a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) under the auspices, partially, that the state had been defrauded by the land deal.
The genesis of those complaints arise from the allegation that Revere businessman Charlie Lightbody had been a one-time partner in FBT Everett, but was barred from ownership rights due to the regulations set by the MGC. He had alleged that he was out of the partnership before Wynn began negotiations on the property, but an MGC investigation showed cause for pause as to whether that had happened.
There is currently a case in state and federal court related to Lightbody and some other owners about whether or not they misled investigators and committed wire fraud in the deal.
Through all that, though, the MGC had always contended that Wynn Resorts was not aware or a party to any of those situations. The MGC went so far as to require the owners of the property to reduce their price from $75 million to $35 million in light of the controversy. They also required the partners to sign an affidavit that stated no “unspoken” or “secret” partners would gain from the sale of the land.
The federal and state cases are still working their way through both levels of court.
Seth Daniel can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]