All In: What We Now Know About Bart Blatstein’s The Provence


It’s been nearly four months since we first saw the initial renderings of The Provence, the Bart Blatstein entertainment complex/casino set in the old Inquirer Buidling. And with tomorrow’s date with destiny on the horizon, we embarked on the only-kinda-awkward tour of the Inky building today, led by Paul Steelman, the designer and architect of The Provence project. We learned some things and we took some pictures, so meet us after the jump to find out more.

Firstly, the piece of news that we mentioned earlier today: The gaming floor will in fact be in former Inquirer newsroom. It looks like this now:

newsroom now

And, if all goes to Blatstein and Steelman’s plan, it will look like this:

newsroom after

For those unfamiliar with the building, that puts the gaming center on the third floor — something uncommon for casinos. Another something uncommon? Windows. The casino floor will be lit by sunlight during the day, so that you can see the reality of your situation as the sun comes up on a long night of bad luck.

With the casino sitting on the third level, what does that make the first level? Well, if you enter the main building entrance on Broad Street, it brings you into the lobby of the new five-star hotel, where you can stay in the Annenberg Suite (Walter Annenberg’s old office), which give you a balcony view (on a very foggy day) of this:

inky tower

And if you enter on the Callowhill side of things (where the main entrance to the whole complex will be), you’ll enter a grand garden atrium that changes with the seasons and will be led into by a grass-and-tree-lined redone Vine Street exit (which is not owned by the Provence people, but they’ll “volunteer” to clean it up). The whole complex will be about nine or ten times the size of just the casino portion, much higher than the average three or four times.

And the rest of the space? It’ll feature shopping, dining, and entertainment spots, including some possibly newspaper themed dining options:


The roof, which currently looks like … well … a roof (as you can see below), will be extended and feature a pool club, comedy club, concert theater, shopping, dining, and more. And the whole thing will be lit in a very straightforward way, as Steelman stressed that the Provence will not have any Vegas-style lighting.


The presentation was littered with the idea of “growing the neighborhood,” with Steelman saying that the standard casino operating procedure of “keeping people in” will not apply here, and the Provence will be a huge boost to the potential building-up of the surrounding areas. And with the goal of attracting “seven, eight, or nine million people” per year, that’s a lot of potential.

When we get more renderings of the project, we’ll update this space here. And we’ll have more tomorrow and in the coming months as all of the proposals are presented and all of the license applicants wait for what could be months to find out who won the license.

8 Responses to “All In: What We Now Know About Bart Blatstein’s The Provence”

  1. phunnyphilly Says:

    Oo la la! Eet iz so Frenchy! Iz zat Booroad Street or ze Champs-Elysees??? We’ll always have Paris…but WHO NEEDS IT now that we have THE Provence (NOT Le Provence, zat would be tres prétentieux)!?!

  2. Chris Brennan Says:

    Philebrity in 2008: Daily News is “salivating” over SugarHouse because columnist Ronnie Polaneczky wrote about a casino community benefit agreement that was popular with some Fishtown residents.
    Philebrity in 2013: Look at the pretty, pretty casino plans from our old pal Bart Blatstein.
    You owe Ronnie an apology. But cheap-shot artists never have the courage to step up like that.

  3. philebrity Says:

    Brennan, you’re out of line. This is not an ‘ooh pretty pretty’ post. This casino is a fucking colossally dumb idea, as is the Mohegan Sun one, and Sugarhouse, and so on. But the proposals are newsworthy, so we’re reporting on them. So, no.

  4. pete n pete Says:

    So is he buying Tommy Up a spot in this place, too?

  5. philebripee Says:

    You’d be more believable if you took the same tone as you did in that totally newsworthy write-up of the proposal down on Packer. Coward.

  6. philebrity Says:

    How exactly to accept a charge of cowardice from someone whose first comment on this site is registered to ‘philebripee’ via

  7. philebripee Says:

    Anyway you want captain. Doesn’t change the fact that Blatstein was treated with far less snark than others.

  8. philebrity Says:

    That’s because Jim wrote this, and he is a MUCH nicer human being than I am.

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