Grand Soleil set to open summer ’08

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, December 11, 2007

NATCHEZ — A grand lobby with a glass entrance will greet casino-goers, according to images the Grand Soleil hotel and casino, formerly Emerald Star, released Monday.

Ramps will lead from the lobby at the parking lot to the boat.

The companion hotel, on top of the hill at the former site of the Ramada Inn, will have 124 rooms.

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The slab and foundation work for the hotel were finished last week, Marketing Director Baxter Lee said.

Images of the hotel plans should be released in the next month or so, he said.

The casino parking lot is under construction, and one of two retaining walls is nearing completion.

“It’s a very exciting time for us,” Lee said. “As the project nears completion, things are beginning to take shape and look like the vision we’ve had.”

Construction on the hotel and lobby building should start soon after the holidays, he said.

“We’re anticipating opening the hotel and casino at the same time hopefully early in the summer of 2008,” Lee said.

Construction of the hotel foundation and the casino parking lot has been on schedule, Lee said.

“The weather has been good for our contractors, and the river levels have been good to do the work, he said. “Everything’s working out nicely.”

The Grand Soleil will be the second casino to locate in Natchez. The existing Isle of Capri casino and hotel are just upriver, and Lane Company has plans to locate a casino under Roth Hill.

“Our philosophy is for Natchez to grow as a destination,” Lee said. “We’re going to have to work together with whoever’s here. If it’s us and the Isle, or us, the Isle and Lane, as long as we work together, we believe Natchez will grow as a destination.”

Emerald Star — Natchez, LLC, the development company building the Grand Soleil, has plans to market the casino and hotel beyond the Miss-Lou, Lee said. Marketing will begin before the buildings are finished, he said.