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POCONO MANOR, PA-Matzel Development has unveiled plans to acquire and redevelop this 3,500-acre national historic district that includes Pocono Manor Inn & Golf Resort into a hotel and casino complex with surrounding residences, including time-share properties. The acquisition of the 5.5-square-mile property from the current owner, James Ireland, will close prior to the Dec. 28 deadline for applications for Pennsylvania gaming licenses.

A Matzel spokesman declined to disclose the acquisition cost, and a call to Ireland was not returned by deadline. The Matzel spokesman tells GlobeSt.com the all-in cost for the development is $3 billion and will take place in two phases of $1.5-billion each over the next 10 years.

Matzel, headed by Greg Matzel, has offices in Marshalls Creek, PA and Ocean, NJ. Matzel is formerly of Matzel and Mumford, a New Jersey homebuilding firm, which was acquired by K. Hovnanian. For the Pocono project, Matzel is partnering with Morris Bailey, a member of the family that owns JEMB Realty, the parent of Montreal-based Busac Real Estate and other affiliates, which, in combination, own and operate 6.2 million sf of assets in New York, New Jersey, Scottsdale, AZ and Canada. Dennis Gomes, former president of Aztar Resorts, which owns Tropicana-brand resorts in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, is now president of his own firm and will manage and operate the Pocono facility.

The property, which encompasses parts of Tobyhanna and Pocono townships and the Borough of Mt. Pocono, has its own zip code. It currently includes the 257-room Pocono Manor Inn, which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, two golf courses, an equestrian center, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a skeet shooting range and miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding and cross country skiing.

The first phase of the redevelopment includes renovation of the inn, the equestrian center, one of the golf courses and several older buildings on the property. It also calls for construction of a one-million-sf hotel and casino complex. The new hotel, according to the spokesman, “will contain 750 rooms in a building of between 18 and 25 stories. The casino is designed to accommodate 5,000 slot machines.”

Additional plans also call for “a 300,000-sf retail village that will include a 45,000-sf restaurant, a 100,000-sf village green for outdoor events, and a 12-acre lake. The second phase will include a town square of approximately 1,500 residential units, including time shares,” he says. Approximately one-third of the property will remain undeveloped. “If and when we receive a gaming license,” he says, “phase one will be completed within two years.”

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