Former Concord state senator and businessman Andy Sanborn hopes to build a new 43,000 square foot casino and entertainment venue in the city’s east end that will bring jobs and income to the city, a- he told members of the planning board on Wednesday evening.
The first phase of the project would be a 24,000 square foot games room with 634 seats and an 8,500 square foot restaurant and brasserie with seating for up to 150 diners. The new building would be located near the intersection of Loudon and Sheep Davis Roads and close to Interstate 393 on a side street named Break O’Day Drive. Future plans include a hotel and event center.
Sanborn owns the Draft Sports Bar & Grill and Concord Casino, a small charity gambling facility located in downtown Concord. He decided to go ahead with this project largely due to the success of his current business. He said it would create a new walkway on the east side of town while giving back to charity, according to state law.
“The way New Hampshire has established the ability to help us raise money for charitable causes is really, really cool and we get great satisfaction out of it,” Sanborn said Thursday. “We are traditional New Hampshire Yankees who love all things New Hampshire, New Hampshire. We want to pay homage to who we are as a people and this is a way of celebrating that in an aesthetic way.
Under state law, charitable gaming centers and casinos are required to donate 35% of their gross revenue to specific charities every 10 days.
“Local charities are expected to receive more than a five-figure annual sum, which would give a total charitable value of tens of millions of dollars,” wrote Nicholas Golon, one of the designers of the project at TFMoran. “A facility such as the one proposed would become the largest fundraiser for local charities in the county.”
Sanborn said he would double the number of charities receiving the money from 36 to 72. Charities could include little league sports, veterans services, domestic violence shelters, animal shelters, homelessness, addiction services and more in the Concord area, Sanborn said.
“We are always looking for charities to get involved in this and we have open slots for nonprofits,” he continued.
Additionally, the facility will employ over 250 people and attract more visitors to the eastern part of the city.
“It will reduce the pressure on city and municipal budgets and allow us to continue to help the community and that is an important aspect,” Sanborn said. “People won’t have to go to their local government body as much to get a document because that will really provide services.”
Sanborn expects to be back before the planning committee at its next meeting in October to present the official site plans for the first phase, which will include the construction of a centralized building with metal panels on the side and a brick facade with overhang for vehicles to be loaded and access to unloading and hall. The interior of the building will house the casino, a bar-restaurant and a brasserie.
Phase two will include a hotel and phase three will include an events center to host weddings, political rallies, educational meetings and work events, Sanborn said.
Seeking advice from planners on their plan, Sanborn asked council members to comment.
Board member Jeffrey Santacruce suggested the design team consider other developed spaces, like the Steeplegate Mall, instead of disturbing undeveloped lots.
“I get what you’re saying about the right space, but there’s a vacant mall. Have you thought about taking that space? It has parking,” Santacruce said.
Sanborn said he contacted the mall owners to no avail.
“We are all painfully aware of the mall’s challenges and the lack of response everyone is receiving,” Sanborn said. “We first approached them over a year ago and have tried time and time again. If they were responsive we would be happy to consider that.
Sanborn said if the city could help get in touch with the mall owners, he would consider the location.
“I would hate to see us cut into virgin land when there are vacant properties,” Santacruce said.
Additionally, there are challenges with the undeveloped lot on Break O’Day Drive, including steep grades, uneven topography and wetland issues, Golon said, all of which will be resolved.
“You have to look at the city of Concord, the people of Concord, and the state of New Hampshire; what do they get out of it? said Golon. “Seems like the right place for this type of use.”
Overall, board members welcomed the proposal.
“The casino hits a lot of boxes for what it’s trying to do,” said chairman Richard Woodfin. “But I don’t want to see the cheapest buffet or neon signs with the loosest slot machines in town typical of other casinos.”
Referencing the Tuscan Market in Salem, which features very traditional and modern buildings, Sanborn said he wanted to model this location from this design.
Woodfin and other planners said they looked forward to reviewing the official proposal once submitted.