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February 12, 2013

Officials glean few details on mall slots

DANVERS — Four Danvers selectmen who met with an official representing a casino developer interested in siting a slots parlor at the Liberty Tree Mall say they didn’t get many specifics.

The developer, The Cordish Companies of Baltimore, Md., also did not commit to a Danvers site.

Town Manager Wayne Marquis said selectmen and town officials met with Jeff Snyder, a project manager for Cordish, individually and in pairs to avoid violating the open meeting laws.

“It was kind of a meet and greet,” said Selectman Dan Bennett, who said a public meeting on a potential project is tentatively scheduled for March 5, if Cordish is still interested.

Board members gained some insight: A slots parlor would have a capacity of 2,500 people and up to 1,250 slots, including so-called electronic table games that do not require a dealer, selectmen said. Selectmen said they were told the former Sports Authority building at the back of the mall, at 50,000 square feet, could accommodate a slots parlor that could employ 700 people, without need for an expansion.

During this stage of the application process, Cordish officials do not have to name a site, and the corporation has not yet told the state what kind of license, casino or slots, it intends to pursue.

“They have not yet confirmed with us,” Massachusetts Gaming Commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said in an email. “They still have the basic threshold decision: is this something we are going to do or not.”

Cordish has developed two Hard Rock-themed hotels and casinos in Hollywood and Tampa, Fla., and last year opened a casino at the Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Md. Arundel Mills is owned by Simon Property Group, which also owns the Liberty Tree Mall.

But Danvers is being eyed for a slots-only facility, Marquis said, not a full casino. Danvers is also not the only location in the state the company is eyeing.

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