The House of Representatives today approved legislation to clear the way for construction of a hotel at or near the Twin River Casino in Lincoln.
The legislation, 2015-H 5798aa, introduced by Rep. Jeremiah T. O’Grady (D-Dist. 46, Lincoln, Pawtucket), was passed by the House on a vote of 67 to 0.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. A companion Senate bill, 2015-S 0649, introduced by Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence), is currently before the Senate Committee on Special Legislation and Veterans’ Affairs.
The legislation passed today by the House will provide that construction of a hotel at or in close proximity to TwinRiver will remain subject to the Town of Lincoln zoning ordinances.
Faced with impending competition from gaming facilities in nearby Massachusetts, casino officials announced their desire to construct a hotel (a four-story structure with about 200 rooms) to remain competitive. Under state law, however, the casino is prohibited from building a hotel, a prohibition intended to help protect the viability of Providence-area hotels.
The O’Grady bill removes those restrictions and clears the way for construction of the hotel, which casino officials say will be built in the modest style of a Courtyard Marriott or Hampton Inn. Cost of building the hotel is estimated at between $30 million and $35 million, with construction taking about a year.
“In 2012, the voters of Lincoln were asked whether they supported the expansion of gambling activities at TwinRiver to include table games,” said Representative O’Grady. “Seventy-five percent of Lincoln’s voters approved that measure, indicating that the town is comfortable with the facility and has an interest in seeing it sustained as a viable entity in both the short and long terms.”
“Given that significant competition is about to go online in Massachusetts, the managers of the Twin River facility should be given the opportunity to sustain their operation by building a modest hotel if that is what they wish,” said Representative O’Grady. “This bill simply provides that opportunity, subject to Town of Lincoln land use regulations.”
The legislation, which had been heard by the House Committee on Finance earlier this month, was reported out of that committee this week on a vote of 18 to 0. Among those who testified before the Finance Committee on the bill were union officials who noted the potential for 200 temporary construction jobs and 100 new full-time jobs to operate the hotel.
Representative O’Grady said he attended a meeting to discuss the hotel plan earlier this year with Lincoln town officials and representatives of the casino, prior to submitting the legislation. “The plan was received well, and it was especially comforting to learn that the casino would not seek any tax breaks or other concessions for the project,” he said.
Commenting on Twin River’s concern about competition from a Massachusetts facility, Representative O’Grady said that “we do live in a world where we have new competition on the very near horizon. It behooves the state and the town as well to make sure we have a successful facility at Twin River.”
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