City touts riverfront at Gaming Summit

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 10, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; The trade show floor at this week’s Gaming Summit on the Gulf Coast has filled with sales representatives hawking goods and services for the casino industry.

And then there was Natchez.

Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith; Michael Ferdinand, director of the Economic Development Authority; Tourism Director Walter Tipton; and tourism sales staffer Stratton Hall manned a booth at the summit Wednesday and Thursday.

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Their main purpose? To tout the city’s riverfront properties as a site for casino developers, Smith said Friday.

Armed with full-color handouts

and posters and banners displaying the riverfront site, the four spent two days touting the site to anyone who would listen.

&uot;We’re just trying to get the word out about what we have here &045; and we feel pretty good that we did that,&uot; Smith said.

City and economic development officials are marketing 5.3 acres of riverfront property at the foot of Roth Hill, plus the 1.7-acre convention center parking lot site and the old Natchez Pecan Factory building, to prospective developers.

The hope is that one day the entire riverfront &045; including a rebuilt Water Street running along the river between Silver Street and Roth Hill Road &045; will be taken up with park space and housing, and with businesses that would bring jobs and tax revenue into the city.

The city has received several inquiries about the site &045; including two the group met at the Gaming Summit.

Two other groups that contacted the city at an earlier date are also still interested in the site, Smith said.

City officials will make a presentation about the site at the Mississippi Gaming Commission’s next meeting, which will be held May 21 at the Natchez Convention Center.

That’s being done in the hope that the site will catch the eye of casino developers, City Attorney Walter Brown has said.

Having Gaming Commission members visit Natchez not only gives them the opportunity to see that Roth Hill meets infrastructure and other casino development needs.

It also gives them the opportunity to tell prospective developer about the site, city officials have said.

Another purpose of attending the Gaming Summit was to tout the city’s tourist attractions in general, Smith said.