Mayor says details are holding up signing of Lane Co. lease

Published 11:43 am Thursday, March 29, 2007

Natchez residents will have to wait a little while to test their luck at a new casino under Roth Hill.

Lane Company has not yet signed a lease with the city to build a riverfront development, including a casino.

The board of aldermen voted in December to allow Lane to build the development after receiving proposals from three companies and considering two.

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The lease involves more than negotiating the price and the land, Mayor Phillip West said.

“It’s a lot more complicated than one would think,” West said. “It also involves their proposal, not just the lease of the property itself.”

Details are holding things up, West said, but he wouldn’t discuss specifics.

“We need to make sure that whatever they sign would be compatible with the gaming commission and that sort of thing,” West said.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission gave Lane the go-ahead in February to start planning for the development and casino. They still must meet further requirements in the future.

More than just the price and length of time of lease goes into a contract like that, Lane spokesman Ted Doody said. A contract for a project that large, that would be binding for years, needed to be precise, he said.

“It’s a lengthy document, and it takes some time,” Doody said. “This contract is the undergirding of a very extensive project that will have a great impact on Natchez and will be there for a very long time. We need to be prudent in the way it’s formulated and drawn up.”

But Doody said he wanted to reassure residents that work was still being done.

The company is close to assembling a design team, including architects and engineers, he said.

“We’re still moving forward with everything that was in the proposal,” he said.

“We’re still doing our design work and preparation. And we fully believe the contract will be executed in a timely manner.”