By Seth Daniel
Steve Wynn visited Boston on Tuesday afternoon to unveil the full-scale model of his Everett resort casino, and in true Wynn form, debuted the newly-named Wynn Boston Harbor and kicked around other subjects as well, from the U.S. presidential election to the environmental appeal of Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone to the new story of the late Boston Mayor Tom Menino telling him to “take a hike” when he proposed to build on the South Boston Waterfront.
The new model debuted is much of what has been described in words before, but this time it was detailed in three-dimensional specifics.
“Before you have a building, you have to have an idea, and without an idea, you have nothing,” Wynn said at the outset of the press conference on Tuesday, which came after a private viewing by several local leaders.
“What you see here today is exactly what you will see when it opens. The renderings and model are not an approximation of the colors or the detail of the building, it is the building. Today you will see what’s coming two or three years down the road. You will see ‘the stuff.’”
That stuff included a grand foyer that features an all-flower sculpture as one enters – a sculpture that would feature a carousel, a Ferris Wheel or a Faberge egg. Under it would be a flower design with the inspiration coming from a sea anemone.
“It will always be 100 percent flowers,” Wynn said. “It cost a couple million dollars apiece, but they’re worth it.”
Astride two opposing crescent-shaped escaltors is the $23 million ‘Popeye the sailor man’ sculpture – purchased by Wynn specifically for the Everett property even before he had the gaming license. The curving escalators – which Wynn said cost 10 times as much as a traditional, straight escalator, curve inward and deposit one on the Mezzanine level of the resort.
The retail portion and restaurants would branch off in both directions, but a mall type of structure would stretch out towards the Mystic River. The shops, he said, will be the same as other Wynn resorts, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton and others. One focal point within all of those grandiose pieces was the fact that there was no casino within sight.
Wynn said that was by design, and he considers the casino as a way to pay for the opulence of the foyer and the retail and restaurants. He said he designed the Everett casino in the fashion of his casino in Macau, where there was no open access to the casino from the lobby.
“The notion would be that everyone in the metropolitan area could go shopping, could go dining in the restaurants, get married, have a convention or meeting, be entertained – and do all of this without ever seeing a gaming device,” he said. “After all, we’re in Massachusetts; we’re not in Las Vegas. Gaming doesn’t have to lead the parade. It should be an activity that’s optional.”
The casino floor, however, is huge, with two elevated gaming areas – one of which is likely to be the new sports bar concept that will be first unveiled at the Everett casino. The floor contains hundreds of slot stations, with gaming tables interspersed. The layout of the gaming will have segregated games, so that blackjack isn’t right next to roulette. Instead, similar games will be next to one another.
Wynn also unveiled the new name for the resort, the Wynn Boston Harbor. The name seemed to fall flat with the press, with some media members noting that the casino is not on the Harbor. “Wynn Mystic” was suggested, but Wynn didn’t seem to take to it.
“We were trying to express its appeal and Harbor seemed like a pretty word,” he said. “We haven’t made a final decision.”
He also said he wants to be a catalyst for Lower Broadway in Everett, and likely by extension, perhaps to the Charlestown Mystic River waterfront.
“This is a $2 billion job,” he said, noting that they have already spent $300 million. “It makes us the largest private developer in the history of Massachusetts. It makes us the first or second largest employer in the state. More importantly, we’re going to be a catalyst for change in Everett. We bought up the adjacent properties and made this old industrial area a park-like environment. Hopefully at some point we’ll include an office building and an apartment building – maybe even some day the world’s greatest par 3 golf course. It’s funny, when you have a catalyst of this magnitude, you won’t see it at first, but remarkable things happen once it is in business. All the sudden people see opportunities in adjacent communities for development that is fanciful and otherwise something never thought possible. I find this sort of participation on our part to be narcotically exciting.”
State Rep. Dan Ryan said
“Mr. Wynn provided a glimpse into why he is the best in the world at what he does,” said Ryan. “His attention to detail was topped only by his enthusiasm for building in Everett and being in the Boston area. We have a lot of work ahead. Living with a resort casino becomes more of a reality everyday. I am confident that we will be working with the best in business. Let’s get to work!”
State Sen. Sal DiDomenico said he was excited by the vision and opulence of the resort.
“None of us, including myself, could have ever thought something like this was possible on this site when we voted for expanded gaming,” he said. “I look forward to the thousands of jobs and investment of dollars coming to our region as this gets underway.”
The conversation then turned to Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone. Wynn said he had no idea why the Somerville mayor would appeal the Chapter 91 license at the last minute.
When traffic was suggested, he gave a “raspberry” sound and dismissed that totally.
“You’ve gotta be kidding,” he said after the raspberry. “Air quality? This has nothing to do with air quality.”
He postulated that it was about exposing the fact that Somerville’s developments haven’t contributed as much as Wynn to the mitigation of the traffic in the area.
“I think he sees us as competition and us shining a light on the mitigation,” he said.
Others suggested it was because Somerville wanted to get more money from Wynn, which sent Steve Wynn on a five-minute history of the arbitration process with Somerville – which the Wynn company won.
“The chances of us [paying Somerville] are a perfect zero,” he said. “We’re not going to pay a dime. Do we need a reason to say we’re done paying? We’re done paying…It’s been a long slog; we got through it. Everyone’s happy. Then in the last second of the last day, out pops his honor Mr. Mayor of Somerville saying, ‘Na Na Na-Na Na.’”
He predicted it would not amount to much in the larger picture, and that they would break ground on July 1 – completing the job in 28 to 30 months.
Despite some skeptics in the audience, Wynn assured everyone he had no ulterior motives for coming to the area on Tuesday to unveil the model. He said he wanted everyone to see it and get a feel for it and make up their minds as to whether it’s good or not.
“There are no mirrors here,” he said.