This has been quite an exciting week, one that has brought incredible news for Massachusetts contractors.
First, an agreement has been reached, and ownership of Weymouth’s South Naval Air Station will transfer from the U.S. Navy to Southfield. This has been a 15-year negotiation in the making, and the last obstacle was the Navy’s commitment on the environmental cleanup of the property.
The benefits to the development of this property, according to an e-mail from U.S. Congressman Bill Keating, will be 10,000 construction and contactor jobs created over the next 10 years. He states the development will include 2,800 new homes, including a mix of apartments, condos, townhouses, and single-family houses, as well as 2 million square feet of commercial space, of which 450,000 will be retail. Additionally, 70% of the property will be reserved for open space and active recreation.
Secondly, the Massachusetts House and Senate have both come to an agreement and passed a casino bill, and it currently sits on Gov. Deval Patrick’s desk waiting to be signed into effect.
We faced this same scenario last year, and the governor vetoed the bill. However, the governor had given ultimatums regarding what he would be willing to pass last year, and those demands were not met. Specifically, he would only allow one slot parlor in addition to the three casinos, but the bill allowed for four slot parlors. This year, there are no indications that the bill is outside the scope of what the governor is willing to pass, and there is strong speculation the governor will be signing the legislation on Tuesday.
Once this passes, it will allow three resort-style casinos to operate in the state, as well as one slot parlor sited at a former dog racing facility.
Each resort casino must invest $500 million towards development to be considered for licensing, so these are going to be some really big casinos, with plenty of work for contractors. There is already activity by at least a dozen investors, including the Mohegan tribe, who purchased large tracts of land in Palmer, a Las Vegas-based casino developer who has made an offer on a $16 million parcel in Springfield, and two developers are looking at two different sites in New Bedford.
The owners of former dog racing facilities Suffolk Downs and Raynham have both spent considerable money over the past 15 years in hopes of converting to world-class slot parlors with restaurants, retail, and hotels, and will be competing fiercely for the one available license.
The Wampanoag tribe from Mashpee will be given first go at the license for the southeastern part of the state, but may be held up in litigation with the town of Middleboro for a site they had already signed an MOU for. The town’s board of selectmen has threatened to sue the Wampanoag if they do not pursue the Middleboro location, which could prove harmful to their chances of securing one of the state’s $25 million licenses.
In all, estimates show these two bits of news will create 50,000 jobs for the construction industry over the next ten years, and will lead to even more development in the surrounding areas, as well as necessary infrastructure improvements. The boost to our industry is incredible, and couldn’t have come at a better time.
The light at the end of the tunnel just got a little brighter for Massachusetts contractors, and as one of the top companies supporting those contractors, we look forward to being really busy very quickly!