If a billionaire New Jersey investor gets his way, it will be a lot harder for lazy headline writers to call Jersey City the “New Brooklyn.” That's because wealthy person Paul Fireman wants to bestow upon the city a very non-artisanal $4 billion sky-scraping casino and resort complex. The Wall Street Journal reported that the massive project includes a "90-story hotel, 14 restaurants, a theater and a complex of pools on a 200-acre site.” It is being called "Liberty Rising," which sounds more like a Hollywood blockbuster or covert military operation than a mixed-use development, but, hey, what can you do. For "Liberty Rising" to actually, well, rise, New Jersey lawmakers will need to pass a referendum to expand gambling into the northern part of the state. The Journal reported that Garden State lawmakers are split on when to bring up the referendum, and how new gambling revenue would be spent. It seems that a portion of the revenue would go toward boosting Atlantic City's tourist economy. (This would be a good time to mention that at the end of last summer four of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos had closed, costing 8,000 people their jobs. ) If New Jersey voters ultimately vote in favor of the plan, then Liberty Rising, and other projects like it, could take shape just outside of New York City. This specific project was designed by the Las Vegas–based Friedmutter Group Architects and, expectedly, has a Las Vegas vibe going for it. The complex rises from a multi-tiered podium that is topped with waterfalls, pools, and green space. Below, there's a place to park your yacht. Along one of the two glass towers appears to be landscape terraces that jut out of the main structure. Liberty Rising is obviously a massive project, but just one of the many new developments reshaping Jersey City. As AN reported last year, the city is taking advantage of its close proximity to Manhattan and trying to entice New Yorkers being priced out of the five boroughs with new residential buildings—many of them rising to supertall heights.
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After a Foxwoods casino went bust in Philadelphia, an elusive casino license has been up for grabs, and proposals for a new facility have been pouring in over the Philly region. Six developers are competing for the city’s second casino license, and two of the proposals are betting on Downtown. Curbed reported that while the majority of the proposed developments are planned for the outer edges of Philly, two proposals intend on building right in the heart of the city. One developer, Blatstein Group, has proposed a colossal $700 million French Baroque-inspired casino, aptly dubbed The Provence, which will take over a sizeable portion of downtown—eight city blocks—at Broad and Callowhill streets, repurposing the former Inquirer and Daily News Tower and building a hotel, retail, entertainment venues, restaurants, and Versailles-style gardens on the roof. A second proposal called Market 8, located at Market and 8th streets on the site of a surface parking lot, appears to be less kitchy and theme-driven than its competitor, but would be equally as sprawling with 100,000-square feet of gaming, eight signature restaurants, concert venue, and hotel. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is evaluating the proposals and is expected to make a decision later this year, but as Philadelphia Enquirer Architecture Critic Inga Saffron warned last year, "As Philadelphia knows too well, developers seeking casino licenses start by trotting out gauzy renderings of Paris, France, but end up building something more like Paris, Texas." It remains to be seen whether the two flashy urban proposals will bring real value to Philly. The other regional contenders include Casino Revolution, Live! Hotel and Casino, Hollywood Casino Philadelphia, and Wynn Philadelphia.