° empty

Casino misses gaming meeting

NATCHEZ — Plans to break ground on the casino on Roth Hill will be delayed another month, at least.

Premier Gaming Group CEO Kevin Preston said materials were not submitted in time get on the agenda for this month’s Mississippi Gaming Commission, which met Thursday.

But the river level would have delayed construction, regardless, Preston said.

Due to the complexity of the structure of the casino being built half on land and half over the river, pilings cannot be driven until the river level goes down, Preston said.

Preston said he plans to submit the necessary materials to the gaming commission by the end of this month in order to seek approval in October.

In August, Mayor Jake Middleton said Premier Gaming Group was supposed to appear in front of the gaming commission for approval in September and break ground in October. He said some gaming commission officials are familiar with the Roth Hill project and have already seen designs for it.

Preston said his company committed another $1 million to the Roth Hill project two weeks ago.

Preston said in August Premier Gaming had already spent close to $4.2 million and was committing another $1 million to contractors and architects.

Preston and other members of the development team arrived in Natchez Thursday evening. They plan to update to officials Friday, while meeting with both locked-in and prospective contractors and other departments involved in the project.

The casino’s architect, Edward Vance of Edward Vance and Associates, said the casino is designed to appear as though it had always been on the Natchez riverfront.

He said an historic lumber mill inspired the weathered wood exterior used in the design.

The design is tasteful in order to fit in with Natchez, Vance said.

“It will look like it belongs here and no other place. That will give it added value.”

Vance said the wood being used on the outside is being purchased from a company that refurbishes old wood for new projects.

“It’s actually a green project,” Vance said.

Approval from the Army Corps of Engineers for the project is still pending, but it should be approved by Oct. 6 after regulations from the State Water Quality Department are met, said Dennis McEvoy, a representative from Fox Cor construction management.

Natchez City Planner Robert Nix said the Friday meeting is standard procedure to receive an update from the casino developers.

“The key item is gaming commission approval — then we will be able to move on as quickly as possible after that,” Nix said.

It has been three-and-a-half years since the City of Natchez first announced the casino development, which was then led by the Lane Company. The Lane Company expected to complete the first phase of construction by November 2007.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen voted to lease both Roth Hill to the Lane Company in 2006.