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Casino preps new site but can't build anything

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Greektown Casino preps new site - but can't build anything yet

By Robert Ankeny

May 10, 2004

Those piles of debris being hauled away from the corner of St. Antoine Street and Gratiot Avenue mean site preparation is under way for the permanent Greektown Casino L.L.C. hotel-casino complex.

But actual construction can't start until final approvals from both the Detroit City Council and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Former Detroit Public Lighting Department and Wayne State University buildings on the 7-acre site near the I-375 service drive, across from the Murphy Hall of Justice, are already demolished, and debris is being carted away daily.

Still, it will be tough for the permanent Greektown complex to be ready in time for Super Bowl XL in January 2006, as once hoped, said Roger Martin, of Lansing-based Martin-Waymire Advocacy Communications Inc.

"Our goal is still to be open as soon as possible," said Martin, who is communications officer for Greektown.

The casino company needs final approval from the appeals court in Cincinnati for a settlement between Greektown, MotorCity Casino L.L.C. and the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.

The Indians had sued the city of Detroit, and federal courts ruled that the tribe's rights were violated by preferences used in granting casino licenses.

Also, the City Council must take final action on rezonings that already have department and City Planning Commission approvals, both for Greektown and for the MotorCity Casino's expansion plans on Grand River Avenue. Only MGM Grand Detroit Casino L.L.C., which continues to fight the Lac Vieux case in court, has all its zoning approvals in place.

The 29-story Greektown casino-hotel complex plans were developed by HGB*Rossetti Design Alliance. They call for 100,000 square feet of gambling space, 400 rooms, a swimming pool and fitness center, a 1,500-seat entertainment theater and 50,000 square feet of convention and meeting space. Three or four themed restaurants and a buffet also are planned, with about 4,000 enclosed parking spots.

A joint venture of Detroit-based Jenkins Construction Inc. and Farmington Hills-based Skansa USA Building Inc. is to manage the $450 million project.

Interior design for the complex, which is expected to employ 3,300 workers when finished, is being handled by Wilson & Associates of Dallas, whose clients have included The Venetian, Caesar's Palace and Atlantis Resorts.

Other Detroit-based architects, planners and engineers on the team are Urbanwerks; Varner & Associates; Merz & Associates; Desai Nasr Consulting Engineers; Scales & Associates; and Tucker, Young, Jackson and Tull.

Robert Ankeny: (313) 446-0404, [email protected]

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