—The old Bethlehem Steel mill structure still dominates the city of Bethlehem, Pa., but it’s been a long time since “the Steel” dominated the local economy like it did when I was growing up nearby. I’m happy to see The Wall Street Journal revisit ambitious plans to redevelop the site, and follow up on what has and hasn’t happened.
Las Vegas Sands promised to build a hotel, shopping mall and events center on a corner of the 126-acre Bethlehem Steel site, which was shuttered in 1995. Anchoring it all would be the casino filled with 5,000 slot machines, where even the ceiling lights, made to look like molten iron rods, would evoke the site’s old industrial legacy.
But revenue from the slots parlor, which opened last May, has been disappointing. The hotel and events center are both 20% complete, and the planned shopping mall is 70% complete, all stalled because of the economic downturn.
There’s fascinating detail in this piece—like the fact that daily revenue of $226 a slot machine last month for the casino’s 3,000 slots was the third-lowest among the state’s nine casinos—and surprising good news about the general health of the local economy.
But there are also clear signs that the casino company isn’t that into the project. “If it were today, we probably wouldn’t have started it,” Las Vegas Sands Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson told the paper.
Well done to the Journal for keeping an eye on the project. Be sure to go back in August for Musikfest—it’s where I learned the Chicken Dance.