All Systems Go, Four Casino Expansion Projects are Underway - Thursday 29th of December 2005

All four of the casinos in the Detroit/Windsor markets are moving forward with their permanent casino/hotel expansion projects.

MotorCity Casino. Last Wednesday, MotorCity Casino broke ground on its $275 million permanent casino, hotel and conference center at its present location near Grand River Avenue and the Lodge Freeway. The construction includes a 17 story, 400 room hotel tower that includes a spa, retail outlets, restaurants and a lounge together with a parking structure. The casino also plans to complete interior and exterior remodeling of the current buildings. MotorCity Casino expects to complete the facility in late 2007.

Greektown Casino. Last month, the Michigan Gaming Control Board approved a $200 million financing package for the development of Greektown Casino's permanent hotel/casino resort. Construction of the permanent Greektown Casino resort, which will include a 400-room hotel and 3,500 space attached parking garage, is scheduled to begin in February 2006, pending final property acquisitions and zoning approvals from the City of Detroit. The project will also include a major expansion of Greektown Casino's gaming space from 75,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet. Once the development is complete, total investment in the project will be about $475 million - $275 million already invested in the current casino and $200 million more to construct the hotel, parking garage, spa, 1,500-seat theater, convention space and other amenities.

MGM Grand Detroit Casino. Construction of MGM Grand Detroit Casino's permanent facility is also progressing. The pilings are going in for the eight story parking garage, part of the new hotel-casino complex, just northeast of the intersection of the Lodge and I-75 freeways between Third and Bagley avenues. Plans for the facility include a new $600 million facility with a 401-room hotel, convention space and a casino with 100,000 square feet of gaming space.

Last week, the Michigan Gaming Control Board heard a presentation from MGM on its permanent casino development plans. MGM told the Board that it would complete construction and be ready to open in early 2008. The Board unanimously approved MGM's permanent casino plan.

Casino Windsor. On December 16th, Casino Windsor opened the first phase of its $400 million renovation and expansion project with the opening of a new "Market Buffet." Casino Windsor's new buffet features seven distinct eateries offering a great variety of menu choices, seats up to 600 customers and covers 26,000 square feet. The restaurant is located on the lower level in the former food court and waterfall areas.

Construction began last August on the first part of the Casino Windsor expansion project, which, in addition to the new buffet, includes the following:

- a new 400-room hotel tower with 22-23 stories and full amenities complementing the existing hotel;

- 5,000-seat entertainment center;

- 100,000 square feet of convention space;

- new restaurants and retail space;

- 1,500 more parking spaces;

- a five-bay bus loading extension;

- Sky bridges to link the complex to the existing casino;

- A two-level entrance space in the rotunda area including a welcoming bar below and entertainment lounge above, replacing the Atrium waterfall; and

- The renovation of the Showtime Lounge.

The project is set to be completed near the end of 2007, generating approximately 7,000 construction jobs. Once completed, the project will create approximately 400 new jobs.

In total during the next two years, well over a billion dollars will be spent constructing and/or expanding these facilities, which should provide a significant boost to our troubled economy. Importantly, the Michigan Gaming Control Board recently adopted a new resolution changing the rules for construction companies involved in the building of Detroit's three new permanent casino facilities. Resolution 2005 03 modifies the terms of a previous Resolution (2003-07) which outlines several categories under which applications for an exemption from Michigan's supplier licensing requirements may be submitted. The new resolution increases the dollar thresholds for prime contractors and subcontractors performing major portions of the project to be considered as eligible for vendor exemptions from $2,000,000 to $8,000,000.

Construction companies interested in relying on the exemption must file paperwork seeking the exemption. They also will be subject to some basic criminal background checks. Thus, the Board has taken the proactive steps of streamlining the process, while still assuring that the public interest will be protected.

All of these developments are truly good news for our region and for our economy, a point that should not go unnoticed. They will bring significant new entertainment options to our region, and the addition of over 1,200 hotel rooms should provide a big boost to our travel and tourism industry.

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