Liberis: CSL continuing Belwood plans

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 6, 2000

Pensacola, Fla.-based CSL Development Corp. presented a proposal for a second Adams County casino to the Board of Supervisors last month, but those involved are giving few details.

Charles Liberis, president of CSL, said the company originally proposed placing a casino and building a hotel at the old Belwood Country Club site. Liberis said he now wants to build a resort, what he called &uot;a destination package.&uot;

&uot;We made a proposal to the county for expansion of our (proposed) development that would put an amenity package on the property as well as a casino,&uot; Liberis said Thursday.

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The proposal still has to be fine-turned, said Virginia Salmon, president of the board of supervisors. But she would not say what changes are being made or when they might be completed, only that supervisors are steadily working to secure a deal.

&uot;It’s definitely a go,&uot;&160;Salmon said. &uot;We want to make it happen.&uot;

She did confirm CSL is still paying the county more than $11,000 a month for an option on the Belwood property.

For her part, Salmon said she is not concerned that a second casino would split the market too much for any one development to make money. &uot;Competition, to a degree, is healthy,&uot;&160;she said.

Because the proposed CSL development would cater to out-of-towners as well as locals and would be a new novelty in the Natchez market, it would have a good chance of surviving, Liberis said. &uot;It would expand the market there in Natchez, not divide it,&uot;&160;he said.

Wendy Grandin, manager of Lady Luck, currently Adams County’s only casino, did not return calls Thursday.

Meanwhile, if there are still plans to put another dockside casino at Natchez Under-the-Hill, they are coming along very slowly.

Natchez Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown said this week that the company interested in an option on property at the foot of Roth’s Hill Road has not paid any money to the city yet. &uot;I don’t have a check,&uot; he said. &uot;But this is a $20 (million) to $40 million deal – they don’t come together quickly.&uot;

In October the mayor announced that a company, which he declines to name, was interested in building a casino in the city. Brown said the company will have to pay $250,000 for the option on the property, which would then be applied to the first year’s rent if the company follows through with the development.

In order for the deal to work out, both the casino company and the city would have to make infrastructure improvements – especially rebuilding Roth’s Hill Road, which begins at the end of Main Street.

Brown said crews working on bluff stabilization are now using that long-closed street as an access road.

Part of the company’s casino deal would be a hotel, which the mayor has said would be located across the street from the downtown convention center scheduled for construction next year.

Some in the city have criticized that choice because of fears that a casino hotel would be partial to its casino customers rather than convention-goers.

&uot;We’ve been very clear that there will have to be a satisfactory operating agreement between the CVB&160;and the casino company&uot; over use of the hotel, Brown said.