Rochester, New Hampshire could be getting a new casino.
Rochester’s planning board last week approved plans presented by New England Gaming and Consulting for a charitable casino in Lilac Mall. The casino should open next year if all goes well.
The city council voted for the casino’s development pending upgrades to lighting and adding an electric vehicle charging station to the site’s plans.
Like all casinos in New Hampshire, 35% of the casino’s revenue supports local nonprofits. The Lilac Mall location would be the second new casino proposal in the past four months.
Earlier this year, Concord city officials approved plans for Imagine Casino.
Community voices support for Rochester charitable casino
During the meeting, the planning board allowed public comment about the development’s application. Directors of multiple nonprofit groups spoke in favor of the casino, as their organizations would directly benefit from the casino’s nonprofit revenue share.
Derek Peters, president of the Roger Allen Park Association, said his organization serves as the city’s de facto sports department. The facility hosts football, baseball, softball games, and more. It takes a little over $100,000 per year to maintain the facility, he noted.
More than 2,000 kids participate in sports at the park every year, Peters said, and earning revenue from the casino would be a critical funding source for upgrading the park’s fields.
“For [the casino] to be in Rochester would be a huge impact for us up here,” he said during the Rochester Planning Board meeting. “Would hope that you support this 100k%.
Dan Woodman, president of sports program Farmington 500, also voiced his support of the proposed casino.
Woodman said his organization’s sports programs have around 1,000 kids. In the past, revenue from gambling fundraisers helped pay for land the group uses for its games.
He said that families are worn out from raising funds every year. Woodman said:
“Everybody is tapped out on fundraisers. My point being is this allows nonprofit organizations to make an income. This is good money. We haven’t seen [any funding] in three years. This is going to help our organization. Hopefully, this passes through.”
New Hampshire casino at Lilac Mall part of a property-wide overhaul
The team of architects and landscapers working on the development of the New Hampshire casino will also overhaul the entire look of the mall. At present, the property is an aged strip-mallish destination with a tired storefront.
Plans presented by the firms involved in the development reveal a tree-laden parking lot welcoming casino patrons to a sleek casino facade. The goal of the design is to bring life to a mall that was once a hub of retail activity in Rochester.
Dwayne MacEwen, whose DMAC Architecture & Interiors firm is helping design the project and commented during the board meeting:
“I think what’s important about this project and what we’ve tried to do from a civil side and landscape side is, this is about placemaking. The Lilac Mall has been a landmark in Rochester since, what, the late 70s? But it’s lost much of its shine in the last decade or more.”
MacEwen told the planning board that the property designs aim to welcome people in and surprise them.
“Rather than making it … a mall that’s essentially failed with a casino in it, we want to make this an entertainment and retail campus…[where] you get the sense that something’s changed, something’s different,” he said.