Finalization for a 115-acre East Taunton land deal between six property owners and the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian tribe took place this week. On Thursday the deal worth $34.5 million was filed via a quitclaim deed with the Northern Bristol County Registry of Deeds, according to the Taunton Gazette.
The city of Taunton, Massachusetts became the tribe’s targeted location for its $500 million Project First Light Casino & Resort in 2012, after a 2011 state casino law authorized a third and final resort casino license for Massachusetts. The site is located across from the Silver City Galleria Mall off Stevens Street near Route 140 in the Bristol County city of Taunton, Massachusetts.
In September the U.S. Department of the Interior approved land into trust applications for the transfer of approximately 151 acres of land in East Taunton and 170 acres in Mashpee for the Mashpee Wampanoag. The tribe had also been seeking additional lands for their project. Buildings and land owned by Woburn-based The Maggiore Cos. are involved in the bulk of the 50 acre sale which sold for $19.2 million. Also part of the sale are 53 acres of undeveloped industrial-park land which was sold for $5.64 million by the nonprofit Taunton Development Corp. (TDC).
Project First Light’s construction will begin in the spring of 2016, according to the tribe. It’s been estimated the project will create 3,500 full and part-time jobs, as well as 287 construction jobs. In 2012 an agreement reached between the city and the tribe guarantees a minimum of $8 million a year from gambling revenues from the casino expected to open in 2018. In September the tribe announced that approximately $30 million in highway and road improvements would begin in the upcoming year. A public forum will be held on November 16 so that community members will have the opportunity to view the planned traffic and infrastructure improvement programs and voice their opinions.
Mass Gaming and Entertainment is confident that its $677 million casino in Brockton, less than 20 miles from the proposed Mashpee project, at the old fairgrounds will be profitable even with a tribal casino in Taunton. The developers believe that the Department of the Interior’s decision will be challenged and litigated for years, tying up the Taunton deal for an undetermined amount of time.
Massachusetts would not receive taxes from the tribal casino if there were two casinos in the region. However, without another casino in the state’s Region C, the Mashpee Wampanoag would be obligated to pay the commonwealth a 17 percent share in gaming revenue.