Wynn project shifts into gear
Largest private construction project in state history
WYNN RESORTS led everyone to believe it put construction of its $2.1 billion Everett casino and hotel on hold when Somerville challenged a key environmental permit, but the worksite on Thursday was humming with activity.
Wynn officials called Thursday’s event a construction start, but it looked as if the true start happened some time ago. Tall cranes are everywhere. Cement trucks are crawling all over the site. And dirt is being dug up, placed in piles based on level of chemical contamination, and prepared for shipment to special landfills in New Hampshire, Ohio, and Quebec.
Over the next six months, Wynn officials say 500,000 tons of soil will be removed from the site. Wynn even has plans to build a special spur off the next-door commuter rail line to ship contaminated dirt out via rail.
About 150 union construction workers are on site now, with plans to have 500 hired by the end of the year. Ultimately, 4,000 construction workers will be employed on the project, which is slated to be completed by June 2019.
Enrique Zuniga, a commissioner of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, called the resort the largest single-phase private construction project in the history of the Commonwealth.
Chris Gordon, president of Wynn design and development, said workers are putting in a slurry wall right now to hold back the dirt as the space for a parking garage is dug out. Gordon said steel for the project will be purchased later this week and visitors will start seeing it go up by the end of the year. By the end of 2017, he said, the entire building should be framed out. By the end of 2018, the building will be weather tight and furnishings and furniture will start to go in, he said.
The state environmental permit that Somerville challenged in February – and still may challenge in court – was obtained on Wednesday, allowing Wynn Resorts to begin work on the part of the property that borders on the Mystic River. Gordon said about eight acres of the Mystic River will be dredged and abandoned barges, wood piles, and junk on the river bottom that emerges at low tide will be removed.
“It’s a mess out there,” said Gordon, but he promised the waterfront will be transformed over the next three years. “This is going to be a public space where the public can come use it and enjoy the waterfront.”
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria tried to place the development in a historical context. He said the site was once pristine, a place with shellfish beds. But he said chemical companies took it over in the 1800s and began producing dyes and acids in a way that contaminated the property and the Mystic River. He said children who went swimming in the river used to emerge with an orange sheen on their skin. He said workers like John McLaughlin, who started working at a chemical factory on the site in 1921, died of pulmonary edema at the age of 28. “He died because of his occupation,” DeMaria said.
DeMaria said the casino and hotel will transform the property, the Mystic River, and over time the city of Everett. “Today we begin turning back the tide and tearing down the walls of toxic pollution by cleaning up this site and returning the Mystic to the people of Everett,” he said.
“There’s no stopping us now, onward and upward,” said DeSalvio.