The City of Philadelphia told the state Supreme Court this week that it has been trying to give SugarHouse a permit the casino says the city is withholding, but the casino won’t take it.
In a request Friday by the City of Philadelphia to file a supplemental response to SugarHouse Casino’s petition before the Supreme Court, the city cited examples of how it has tried to give the casino the license to build it seeks without any response from the company.
In an affidavit attached to the request to the state Supreme Court, city Director of Commerce and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Andrew Altman said he attended a meeting Feb. 6 between officials of HSP Gaming, the parent company of SugarHouse, and Mayor Michael A. Nutter.
Altman said in the affidavit that the mayor told HSP officials that he wanted to work with them and that there was no ongoing dispute regarding the foundation permit at question. The mayor said the underlying prerequisites for the permit were met and it would be issued upon payment of applicable fees, Altman said. According to Altman, Nutter said he informed the Department of Licenses & Inspections to stand by that afternoon and issue the permit.
Altman said HSP investor Neil Bluhm responded that he understood and believed Nutter’s offer, but didn’t address the specific offer to get the license that day.
The affidavit was attached as further support for the city’s argument made in its initial response in January that it had tried to give SugarHouse the permit it sought to begin building the casino along the Delaware River in the city’s Fishtown section.
On Jan. 8, HSP Gaming filed an application for relief seeking enforcement of the Supreme Court’s December 2007 order requiring the city to give HSP Gaming the required permits. The law department filed its response on Jan. 22. After learning of a meeting including HSP officials and Nutter, the city filed a request to submit a supplemental response Feb. 11. It included as an exhibit the proposed response.
"Curiously, though the permit is available for the taking, HSP refuses to accept that offer," the city said in the supplement. "Apparently HSP is far more interested in creating and stoking disputes, and litigating before this court, than in actually procuring the permit that it claims the city is withholding."
The city argues in its response that HSP is not taking the permit because it wants the court to grant its second request made in the company’s application for relief — the appointment of a special master. The city said HSP is using the application as a "springboard" so that a special master could control any future litigation between the two parties.
-- Gina Passarella, Of the Legal staff