Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bethlehem planning commision oks casino design

The Bethlehem Planning Commission got its first look Tuesday at architectural sketches and rudimentary floor plans for the proposed Las Vegas Sands Corp. casino planned for former Bethlehem Steel land, and gave the designs preliminary approval.

If Las Vegas Sands wins a license, it would still need final land development approvals from the commission before it could build a hotel and casino with 5,000 slots machines on the south side of the Minsi Trail Bridge at the western end of the former Bethlehem Steel complex.

Two casino plans in the Lehigh Valley — in Bethlehem and the proposed Tropicana hotel and casino in east Allentown by Aztar Corp. — are considered strong contenders for state gaming licenses.

Tim Baker, who is designing the proposed Bethlehem casino, showed basic floor plans that included a two-level retail complex, the upper level of which would lead into the slots parlor. The building facade would include multiple materials, including concrete, brick sheets, glass panels and metal mesh, and would be accented by architectural lighting, Baker said.
Baker also showed improvements to the site plan for the land around the proposed casino. Much of those improvements were based on comments made by the commission and the public at an August meeting when Sands first presented its sketch plan, according to Marc Brookman, an attorney with the Philadelphia office of Duane Morris.

Among the improvements are two internal roads in the 56-acre site to allow cars to move from east to west without using Route 412, the main road through that part of the city. At the suggestion of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the developers are planning a second entrance to the site from Route 412, Baker said.

A traffic study that will help the developers and the city to determine what other traffic improvements are needed must still be completed.

The updated plans also include two parking areas set aside for up to 75 buses and parking to accommodate more cars than what the city law requires, Heller said.

More here.

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