Mayor signs casino agreement

Published 12:12 am Wednesday, July 11, 2007

NATCHEZ — After more than six months of negotiations, Lane Company signed an agreement with the city Tuesday to reserve the land under Roth Hill with the intent to lease it.

Lane Company representatives plan to locate a casino and riverfront development under Roth Hill.

The board of aldermen unanimously voted to sign the agreement at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Email newsletter signup

Under the agreement, Natchez Enterprises, LLC, an offshoot of Lane Company, has six months to reserve the roughly 5.3 acres.

If the company hasn’t entered into a contract with the city, promising to build, by Jan. 9, the company will pay the city $100,000.

If the company signs a lease with the city, Natchez Enterprises will have the land for 50 years, under the proposed contract.

The city and Natchez Enterprises will “use their best efforts” to introduce into the 2008 state legislative session legislation to extend the lease another 49 years.

Under the proposed contract, the company will pay the city a rent of $1 million or 4.5 percent of their gross gaming revenue each year.

The rent can be re-examined at each five-year anniversary to reflect an increase in the consumer price index.

As well as paying rent, under the contract, the company also must pay $1 million for the development of a YMCA, community recreation center or civil rights museum. They also must donate an amount necessary to complete funding for the Natchez Trails Project, not to exceed $300,000.

Under the contract, the company will donate $255,000 annually to a community development fund.

If it’s not commercially practical for Natchez Enterprises to construct a parking structure, the city will build 100 parking spaces that “shall be utilized solely by (Natchez) Enterprises for off-site parking.”

“This is a tremendous deal for the City of Natchez,” West said.

The signing was “a big step forward to making the vision of a casino at Roth Hill a reality,” Lane Company spokesman Ted Doody said Tuesday. “We could not be more excited. We look forward to the opportunity to unveil more details of future plans.”