Local businesses bet on serving Hollywood Casino patrons

//February 20, 2009

Local businesses bet on serving Hollywood Casino patrons

//February 20, 2009

Times may be tough, but Jim Salinger feels up to taking some
risks. The owner of Unique Limousine is taking part in a new venture – a
shuttle for transporting visitors to and from the Hollywood Casino at Penn
National Race Course
in East Hanover Township.

Slots Shuttle launched Feb. 16 as a new division of Dauphin
County-based Unique Limousine. The casino opened in February 2008.

“With the economy as it is, so many people are cutting back
on personally owned vehicles,” Salinger said. “People are looking for a less
expensive way to get to and from the casino.”

The shuttle runs seven days a week with a cost of $25 per
round trip. A trip to the casino in a taxicab can cost roughly $40 one way, he

The shuttle stops at 10 a.m. at the Harrisburg Mall in Swatara Township
and at 10:20 a.m. at Union Square
shopping center in Lower
Paxton Township
area before heading to the casino, where it is scheduled to arrive by 11 a.m.
It departs each day by 3 p.m.

Unique Limousine is not the only area business looking to
capitalize off of the $310 million casino, said Michael Yingling, broker and
president of West Hanover Township-based Re/Max Delta Group Inc.

“I see a lot of businesses changing gears and trying to
adapt toward offering more services to the casino and the people who patronize
it,” Yingling said. “We’re seeing people looking for large tracts of land for
not only commercial development but also for things like breeding horses,
providing feed for horses and that type of thing.”

While developers eventually would have considered projects
on the land surrounding the casino, the fact that the casino exists has sped up
the process, which is a good thing for business, Yingling said.

The Slots Shuttle will begin with a 14-passenger van, but
Salinger said he has vehicles available to accommodate up to 35 riders. The
service is being staffed by employees of Unique Limousine, which has about 70
chauffeurs and 13 administrative workers.

“We’re really trying to generate an additional revenue
stream other than traditional services,” Salinger said. “There’s going to be no
magic to this – it’s like flipping a quarter. I’m not afraid to try anything.”

In the year since the Hollywood Casino opened its doors, one
hotel already was built and completed, said Marie Beaudet, a member of the East Hanover
‘s board of
supervisors. A MainStay Suites hotel with more than 60 rooms opened in October,
she said. And plans have been submitted for another hotel – a Hilton Garden Inn
– less than half a mile south of the casino, Beaudet said.

Near the end of last year, RVG Management & Development in Wormleysburg proposed a shopping center complex that would straddle the line
between East Hanover and West Hanover
townships, Beaudet said. The 80-acre complex would be at the northeast corner
of Route 39 and Route 22, according to RVG’s Web site.

And while plans have yet to be submitted to the township,
supervisors have heard whisperings of a proposed dinner theater along Firehouse Road
within the township, Beaudet said. Despite all of these proposals, township
officials have had time to focus on how to handle the increased traffic volume
the projects would create, she said.

“Right now, we are just addressing infrastructure, and
whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen,” Beaudet said. “I
honestly believe if we had the sewer capacity and if the economic situation of
the country would be better, we would be up to our ears in plans.”