Monthly Archive: July 2015

New This Week: 3 Barely There Kitchens (5 photos)

Call it the Age of Openness. No, it’s not an enlightened period of history in which people share their feelings. It’s a time when homeowners are increasingly requesting more open spaces. Walls are coming down, ceilings are going up, and cabinetry is getting so clever that you almost don’t even know it’s…

Shop Houzz: Living With Andy Warhol (52 photos)

Decorating around the iconic style of Andy Warhol may seem daunting at first, but in reality his attitudes about art and life in general allow for mixing seemingly incongruous elements easily. In fact, he is quoted as saying, “Art is what you can get away with.” So there you have it: carte blanche to…

U.S. Cities Keep Flirting With Casino Dreams

Massachusetts’ gambling commission met in Boston last week after a New Bedford casino plan collapsed. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Despite little evidence to support casinos’ ties to significant economic growth (and studies that show such venues can be harmful to a neighborhood), cities and states across the U.S. continue to hear the siren song of gambling moguls. But this week’s casino news shows how urban officials are increasingly taking a more nuanced view of gambling.

Georgia Considers Casinos for Atlanta and Beyond
Lawmakers in Georgia are deciding on an amendment that would allow voters to choose whether or not casinos have a place in the Peach State. House Resolution 807 would allow six casinos in the five licensing regions throughout the state. According to Georgia’s WMAZ, the region that includes Atlanta and Fulton County could have two casinos.

The resolution would first need to pass with a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate, but so far, lawmakers seem torn. Some supporters, like Rep. Nikki Randall, a Macon Democrat, are making the argument that it will keep money in the state that would otherwise be spent elsewhere.

“In my district alone, several buses leave here and go to Alabama and to Florida and Mississippi to visit casinos two or three times a month,” Randall said.

Skeptics and those on the fence are curious about where the money from the casinos would go. Some think it’s up to Georgia voters to decide. At any rate, lawmakers still have some time to mull things over. The 2016 legislative session for the General Assembly convenes January 11th.

Economic Adviser Tells Atlantic City to Think Entrepreneurship
In Atlantic City, where dependence on a gambling economy has led to a long, slow decline, officials continue to look for a turnaround solution. The Press of Atlantic City reported this week on a call from AngelouEconomics (economic consultants to the city) for the private sector to take action.

“This is going to have to be private-sector led and funded, with some support from the public as well,” Angelos Angelou said. “Economic development is done best by local businesses, not in the hands of the state.”

Angelou, whose firm has worked with many cities, pointed to Atlantic City’s unique problem, that it has too long been completely reliant on casinos: “There has been no discernible industrial cluster here to build on.”

Angelou argues that in times of economic distress, it’s best to focus on entrepreneurship. He’s advocating for the creation of a nonprofit Atlantic County Economic Development Corp. to implement a strategy.

Another vision for Atlantic City’s future was also recently floated: Daniel Windsor, a senior urban designer at Perkins+Will, proposes that A.C. repurpose sprawling casinos as research labs and spaces that could support the tech industry. He thinks that Atlantic City is uniquely positioned to become an innovation hub with a primary focus on combating the negative effects of climate change given its seaside locale.

“We saw a need not only due to its vulnerability to storms such as Sandy,” Windsor told Curbed, “but also due to the failing, gambling-based economy. We could find a new niche, a new economic catalyst and reposition the entire city.”

Boston Region Hopeless for Casinos?
Though Massachusetts voters have ruled in favor of allowing casinos in the state, rollout is proving to be tricky for industry developers. Last week, the much-hyped plan for a New Bedford casino collapsed. Lack of funding and confidence in its future were the final nails in the coffin for the $650 million proposal.

One thing keeping investors wary: In an attempt to ensure that casinos do in fact deliver the jobs and economic growth promised by the industry, the Massachusetts law requires that casinos receive a minimum of $500 million in investments. That’s a tall order for developers and a big risk for investors.

Steve Wynn, chief executive of Wynn Resorts, has complained that while Massachusetts residents voted to let casinos into the state, they have yet to roll out the welcome wagon. Wynn is behind the $1.7 billion proposal for a casino in Everett that was originally planned for East Boston — where the community rejected it.

“We’re hopeful that in Massachusetts at some point in the near future, we’ll be treated with a little softer hand considering that we’re the largest single private investment in the history of the state, and that we’re bringing to that town non-casino attractions that have never been around,” Wynn said on a call with investors.

According to the Boston Globe, the no-go on New Bedford:

… is a market signal that the gaming commission can’t just ignore. A failing casino would be a huge headache for the Commonwealth. …

5 Modern Homes in Oakland

In the kitchen and dining area, Shoup used ipe wood and installed an energy-efficient hydronic radiant heating system in the concrete floor. “There’s a minimalism that drives the basic design gestures,” notes Shoup. “I tried to temper that with a compleme

Stephen Shoup is the kind of person to see potential in things that others might miss. In 2005, looking for a property that would house himself and his design/build firm, building Lab inc., he happened upon a roughly 6,000-square-foot lot in north Oakland, California. Undeterred by the condition of the building (it had served as a shop for the late master woodcarver Miles Karpilow), he instituted a creative live-work space that can evolve with his needs. 

For 2024 Olympics, Are Two U.S. Cities Better Than One?

Los Angeles, above, and San Francisco could make a joint bid for the 2024 Olympics. (Photo by Nserrano)

After Boston bowed out of the running for the 2024 Summer Olympics earlier this week — with Mayor Marty Walsh saying he didn’t want to put taxpayers at risk in pursuit of the Games — speculation over potential U.S. host cities quickly centered on the West Cost. And the buzz was all about a joint Los Angeles-San Francisco bid.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer received a call about a joint proposal on Tuesday from L.A. sports executive Casey Wasserman.

“I’m not saying we are going to do it, but we are certainly open to discussing it,” Baer said, according to the Chronicle.

NBC reports:

Baer and Wasserman helped lead their respective’ cities finalist bids last year to be the 2024 U.S. Olympic bid city. Boston beat Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., to be the U.S. bid in a Jan. 8 announcement.

In an L.A. Times op-ed today, Neil deMause, co-author of Field of Schemes, writes about why Los Angeles might be better off without the Games:

A recent Oxford University study of 17 Olympics from 1960 through 2012 found that every single one had busted its budget, on average nearly tripling initial estimated costs. That’s a big reason why, despite the flood of ticket money and corporate sponsorships washing around the games, cities are often left with seas of red ink.

The cross-California partnership’s far from a done deal, but we’ll soon know for sure. A new U.S. host candidate would need to be submitted by a deadline of September 15th.