UMass study finds little impact from Plainridge on Plainville commercial real estate

PLAINVILLE — A report drafted by researchers at UMass Amherst says it’s hard to say how much impact the state’s three casinos have had on commercial real estate in their area.

The report, from The Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts research team at the university, was delivered at the most recent meeting of the state’s gaming commission.

The authors said it was particularly hard to gauge the impact of Plainridge Park Casino — the state’s oldest legal gaming venue — on its host town of Plainville and surrounding communities since Plainridge opened in June of 2015 because of the small number of commercial properties involved. “(I)t is difficult to discern whether the construction of Plainridge Park Casino had any bearing on commercial sale prices in the area…,” the report said.

The report also looked at the impact of MGM Springfield on that western Massachusetts city and area and that of Encore Boston Harbor in Everett.

The findings in the report follow other studies that examined housing and real estate conditions in host cities prior to the announcement of the respective licenses. Casino proponents and critics, respectively, have argued about the potential impact of casinos on their communities.

The report noted that the casino on Route 1, close to its interchange with I-495 and major tourist attractions such as Gillette Stadium, Xfinity Center and Wrentham Village Premium Outlets, is relatively distant from the town center. “Most of Plainridge Park Casino’s immediate neighbors are large chain retail establishments which might benefit from the proximity to the Interstate. As such, the development of Plainridge Park Casino has had a relatively minor impact on the built environment of Plainville itself.”

Nevertheless, the report says, “While commercial building square footage in surrounding communities grew at a similar rate to that of the State, Plainville’s growth rate suggests that the commercial buildings being erected in Plainville were larger on average than those being built across the state or its surrounding communities.”

The report also notes that growth in commercial building inventory in town since 2010 “has outpaced that of the commonwealth, growing by about 8 percent. The surrounding communities initially grew slower than the Commonwealth overall, but soon outpaced it after the Plainridge Park Casino was awarded its license.”

Mark Melnik, head of the SEIGMA economic team at the UMass Donahue Institute, said, “This study highlights that while casinos in the state likely have helped to strengthen local real estate markets, the casinos also developed alongside broader robust economic recovery following the Great Recession in Massachusetts. In that, commercial real estate markets have tended to be strong in all three host communities, but we do not see any dramatic divergences from the statewide trend. That said, there are important differences in real estate conditions between host communities.”