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State Report Envisions City Avenue As Lucrative Casino Location

Lower Merion officials dismiss the possibility on their turf.

City Avenue is among the most potentially lucrative locations in Pennsylvania for a new casino, according to demographic research whose results state Treasurer Rob McCord reported Tuesday.

However, at least on the Lower Merion side of the street, the notion is simply not being considered, township officials said.

"The last thing we need at this time is someone thinking that there are plans for a casino along City Avenue," township Planning Director Robert Duncan told Narberth-Bala Cynwyd Patch via email, indicating he was surprised by the news.

Said township Commissioner George Manos, whose Ward 9 includes City Avenue through Bala Cynwyd: "Not much to think about here. ... There is probably not a single person in the township who would support the use, so getting approval would be nigh to impossible."

The report from Innovation Group, a consultant for the state, estimated Pennsylvania could realize an additional $98 million a year through a City Avenue casino. Only a Reading site ($125 million) would be more lucrative.

Lower Merion Township's government has for years, and especially in recent months, contemplated zoning changes to stimulate business development in the City Avenue corridor. The most recent in the case obligated future developers to pay a share of transportation improvements, but other language being considered would ease restrictions on building heights, possibly allowing more and bigger corporate tenants.

None of the changes being considered would make room for a casino, though, Duncan said: "Any form of gaming use is not a permitted use in the zoning district along the City Ave corridor. This includes the current and proposed zoning for this corridor."

Manos said he saw a silver lining in the report: "I think the value in the study is to highlight the market potential of the area near the Schuylkill Expressway, not its suitability as a site for a casino. No one who I know would waste that potential on such a use, it being one that would likely cost the region dearly in terms of residential quality."

The next public workshop on City Avenue zoning is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday at the .

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