I Heart Inga / No Heart Slots

I know that I’ve already mentioned how much I admire Inga Saffron, the Inky’s architectural critic. But the truth is I love her. For months, maybe years, I’ve been looking for someone who shares my visceral disdain for the idea of slot machines in Pa. Now, it appears, I’ve found her. Saffron’s column on Friday looks at the deeply flawed gaming bill, which was just railroaded through the state legislature, and the impending effects that the one-armed bandits will probably have. Two massive slots parlors are slated for Center City Philadelphia, one in a high-profile spot surrounded by a few historic neighborhoodsWashington Square, Old City, Independence Mall. Inevitably, the new casinos will leech business away from the trendy Market Street restaurants. And I can’t imagine anyone wanting to live close to a windowless coffin where blue-haired octogenarians piss away their retirement savings. Even the neighboring, booming Convention Center area might see the parlors as a business poacher.

Also, as Saffron points out, the state was given total control over the zoning and design of the casinosa stipulation that was incorporated, said one of the gaming advocates, to “stick it to Philadelphia.” How big will one of these Center City parlors be? Saffron predicts 5,000 machines, which can draw 40,000 visitors in a 24-hour day. Tour busses from the old folks homes would line Market Street. A concrete, windowless big box and parking garage, which could effectively wall off two promising CC growth areas.

How on earth is it possible that the same nudniks who torpedoed the idea of a downtown Philadelphia ballpark, something like Camden Yards or Jacobs Field, are now embracing the idea of downtown casinos? Since when did we aspire to be more like A.C.? And from what I’ve read, New York and Chicago aren’t far behind in the slots sweepstakes. The only solace I take in all this madness is that I’m not alone in my Chicken Little predictions. I’ve found my soul mate in Inga Saffron.

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