Casino project is back on schedule

Thanks to good weather, North Shore slots parlor scheduled to open in August.

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Little more than a month after being rescued from near bankruptcy, the Pittsburgh casino is on a lucky streak.

Aided by an almost uninterrupted string of sunny and warm days, the casino has regained much of the momentum lost when work was suspended for nearly two months after former majority owner Don Barden failed to secure permanent financing for the project.

General Manager Ed Fasulo said yesterday the casino, being built on the North Shore just west of the Carnegie Science Center, is on track to open next August, the date set after the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved a bailout led by Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm.

"Since we recommenced work, we haven't lost any days. We had a couple of rain days on a Saturday or a Sunday, which didn't slow us down at all. Everything has gone exceedingly well. Right now, luck has been on our side, if you will," Mr. Fasulo said.

So well has the work progressed that Mr. Fasulo is confident crews will be able to get the casino's outer "skin" up by the first of December. That needs to happen before rain, snow and cold temperatures hit so that a host of contractors can get moving on electrical, plumbing and mechanical work and other interior finishes.

About 10 percent to 15 percent of the slots parlor already has been insulated.

"We're just in good shape," Mr. Fasulo said.

Any delays could further push back the opening, potentially costing the state, city and county millions of dollars in payouts.

Work has progressed rapidly since resuming the week of Aug. 17. The casino's massive 3,750-space parking garage has gone from 20 percent completed to nearly 50 percent since then. About 285 people are working at the site.

"One of the concerns we had was that we lost so much momentum, everything was so well coordinated" before work stopped, Mr. Fasulo said. "But we recovered that and we've gotten up to speed."

Mr. Bluhm's group, Holdings Acquisition Co., took over majority ownership of the casino last month after providing $205 million in equity for the project and closing on $555 million in financing. Mr. Barden retained a 20 percent ownership stake.

Mark Belko can be reached at or 412-263-1262.


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