Casino changes proposed

Published 11:07 pm Saturday, December 10, 2011

An updated design of Magnolia Bluffs Casino was submitted.

NATCHEZ — When a new set of proposed casino drawings goes before the Natchez Preservation Commission this week, a list of concerns from the planning department will come with them.

The Roth Hill casino developers have made a number of changes to the building that vary from a plan previously approved by the preservation commission.

Premier Gaming Group President Kevin Preston said the changes reflect greater efficiency and a desire to reflect local architecture and history.

The proposed building is a metal structure partially covered in cypress siding with a raised metal roof. The casino will have an outdoor deck that wraps the sides and the back of the building facing the river. The casino will have a porte cochére, or car drop-off, with a low shed roof supported by a metal truss.

The new Roth Hill design will go before the preservation board

Previous plans approved by the commission in January 2010 show the casino building completely covered in cypress siding and a gabled porte cochere. Plans approved in November 2010 show the building fully covered in siding, but the previously gabled porte cochére is altered to reflect the shed roof.

Changes reflected in the latest plans submitted last week and concerns about certain design aspects of the casino are outlined in memorandum from Natchez City Planner Bob Nix to the preservation commission in the agenda for the commission’s meeting Wednesday. They include:

4A roof line not consistent with local historical architecture.

4A standard metal roof more consistent with modern commercial buildings than with historical buildings in the preservation district but not unlike the roof already approved on the previous building.

4An exterior finish and porte cochére area that warrant detailed discussion to see if the appearance of the view of the building from the bluff side and coming down Roth Hill Road can be improved.

4A lack of information about the lighting and landscaping of the casino.

The memo points out two positive changes to the plans:

4A lower roof line and less roof top vents that improve its appearance from the building originally approved by the commission.

4The two outdoor customer service areas have been consolidated into one single area that makes more efficient service for customers in the outdoor areas.

Mimi Miller, executive director of the Historic Natchez Foundation, is involved in talks with the casino’s architect, Ed Vance, who is based in Las Vegas, on changes to the design of the casino.

“I am working on analyzing plans and making changes that might make it more compatible to the historic character of the town,” Miller said.

Preston said design plans usually change on a project as large as the casino, which is named Magnolia Bluffs Casino in the planning memorandum. He said the current plans make the casino construction and operation more efficient.

Preston said, for example, the casino is now one story instead of the original two stories so customers do not have to use stairs or elevators to go to multiple floors for amenities.

“All the amenities will be located on the same floor,” Preston said. “If you want to go to the restaurant, bar or do gaming, it’s all right there.”

Preston said some changes, including the removal of wood siding, were done to ensure the casino does not exceed the weight load capacity at the site.

Preston said his staff has been working with the city and with Miller to make sure the casino reflects Natchez’s character.

“We want to tie the historical aspects into the building,” he said. “It’s important to this community so it’s important to us that we do that.”

Preston said he and the casino’s architect will be at the commission’s meeting at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday to answer questions about the casino’s design.

The preservation commission meets in the Natchez City Council Chambers.