Officials tout riverfront development

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; The Miss-Lou will see many developments come to fruition in the next two years, and city officials said they want a second casino, hotel or similar development to be a part of that mix.

Their comments were part of presentation made to attendees of Wednesday’s Mississippi Gaming Commission meeting, which was held at the convention center.

Officials are marketing 5.3 acres of riverfront property at Roth Hill, the 1.7-acre convention center parking lot and the old Pecan Factory building for development.

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And what better place to do it, they reasoned, than at a meeting that attracts dozens of casino principals, attorneys and regulators each month?

&uot;Gaming is a very important part of the Natchez tourism effort,&uot; City Attorney Walter Brown told the commission.

That’s evidenced, in part, by the $30 million that has been spent in the last several years on bluff and riverfront work, Brown said.

&uot;We believe there’s room for an expanding (gaming) market in Natchez,&uot; he said.

&uot;There are things here you can’t find anyplace else.&uot;

And there’s more to come, said Tourism Director Walter Tipton, with several developments to be completed by 2005.

Those include:

4The four-laning of U.S. 61 to Baton Rouge.

4The extension of the Natchez Trace Parkway to Liberty Road.

4The construction of a master’s of business administration building at Alcorn State University’s Natchez campus.

4The construction of a new recreational lake in neighboring Franklin County.

4The renovation of Memorial Hall as a location for a federal courthouse.

&uot;And we’d like to have a hotel by 2005, too,&uot; Tipton said.

&uot;We’ve got quite a bit going on in Natchez, even with the plant closings,&uot; Smith said. &uot;This area is going to move forward.&uot;

Although commissioners didn’t give their opinions on a riverfront development, Chairman Leonard Blackwell said the commission does plan to return to Natchez for another meeting next year at about the same time.

Blackwell also said his visit to Natchez this week has been an eye-opener.

He last visited nine years ago, but this week &uot;I saw a whole new Natchez,&uot; Blackwell said.

&uot;It’s been revitalized in a whole lot of ways, such as the downtown area,&uot;

he said. &uot;Natchez has unbelievable potential.&uot;