Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment achieved key approval from Shippensburg City supervisors on Saturday for conditional use to roll out a long-term plan to develop a new Parx Casino in western Cumberland County.
The proposed 77,572-square-foot casino and restaurant would cover more than half of the former Lowe store on Walnut Bottom Road and Route 11 in Shippen Towne Center, outside Interstate 81. Parx plans to fill Lowe’s site with 600 slot machines, as well as a restaurant and sports complex owned by the national brand, which can seat about 250 people, Penn Live reports. Opening hours from Monday through Thursday will range from 9 am until midnight, and then around the clock from 9 a.m. Friday through midnight Sunday.
The casino is expected to open sometime in 2022, and Parx estimated the annual economic impact from the casino at $ 43 million. The company estimates that once it is completed, it will provide about 125 full-time and part-time jobs, with an average salary of $40,000 for full-time workers, plus benefits. Thomas Bonner, chief consultant at Parx, said the company will hold local job fairs and try to attract as many employees as possible from around.
Given that the project must be licensed as one of the state’s smallest category IV, also known as satellite casinos, the Pennsylvania Gaming Board does not require regular round-the-clock presence of the Pennsylvania State Police, as it is the case with the state’s larger, commercial casinos. Therefore, calls at the Shippensburg casino will be the primary function of the general state police complements operating outside the stations in Carlisle, and Chambersburg if necessary, which could see delays in response time.
Bonner said on Saturday that his team was approaching the Shippensburg district for direct police service at a casino. But he insisted that the debate was “an eye-opener right now” and that he had not promised anything. “Once we get started, we’ll have discussions with city and state police about what’s appropriate, and it’s hard to predict what the outcome will be right now,” Bonner said.
He said Parx maintains its security around the clock, with officers stationed at each entrance and a surveillance system installed that “sees almost every part of the building, both the front and back of the house”. There are also security patrols that are constantly moving through the parking lots.
The move on the Shippensburg project has been going on for nearly two years as Parx has moved away from another location on Route 29 of Interstate 81 as it is concerned about depth problems and the need to move the access road to the immediate vicinity with tractor-trailers headed to the nearby distribution center. After an updated search, the company relocated to Lowe’s former building last year, but was later left in disagreement with the state Department of Transportation on traffic impact studies at the new site, fearing that Parx might abandon it.
That dispute was settled this winter, when Parx and the Gaming Control Board reached an agreement on a revised traffic study plan taking in the larger geographic area, but guarantees the casino operator will only be charged for recommended future road improvements according to the share of increased traffic its site accounts for.
During Saturday’s hearing, project engineer Bill Kick testified that traffic on and off the casino site will never exceed the amount of traffic generated by the former Lowe’s store. Thus, the developers do not see the need to immediately improve the roads in order to implement the project.
The casino is estimated to raise approximately $1.8 million for direct host community payments to Shippensburg Township and Cumberland County.
The next step for the Parx project is a public hearing on the state license, scheduled for May 20 at the H. Rick Lure Center for the Performing Arts in Shippensburg.