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The Bethlehem steel plant on the South Side was the economic engine of the Bethlehem community for nearly a century, employing thousands of people making the steel for the nation’s civilian and military infrastructure.
But when the steel industry fell on hard times and the plant closed, it left a literal and metaphorical hole in the Bethlehem community at large. In 2009, Las Vegas Sands began to fill both voids with Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, bringing back jobs and a sense of pride in the city.
Now, Sands Bethlehem is poised to fulfill the dream of repurposing the entire 128-acre site by selling it for $1.3 billion to Wind Creek Hospitality, which has already announced it will inject $190 million into the property before the final deal has been inked. This includes $100 million for repurposing Machine Shop No. 2, with one possibility being an indoor water park. The additional $90 million will build a second hotel tower, tied to the existing hotel, that will help accommodate the projected increase in visitors to Bethlehem by doubling their space to nearly 600 rooms, says Brian Carr, President and Chief Operating Officer of Sands Bethlehem.
The benefit to the Bethlehem community goes beyond new jobs and tax revenue, but other development projects that the new deal with Wind Creek Hospitality will stimulate. The site will no longer be primarily a casino and a hotel for casino-goers, but a much broader entertainment destination for a greater array of Lehigh Valley residents. “When all is said and done, this is going to be a good thing,” Brian says. “We’re going to see the promise of what we thought could happen in this community really starting to go.”