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Casino Queen developer unveils plans for St. Louis facility

By Rachel Lippmann

St. Louis – The St. Louis development company that built, owns and operates the Casino Queen in East St. Louis has unveiled its plans for a facility in St. Louis.

Koman Properties is one of two developers from St. Louis interested in submitting an application for the 13th casino license, which was freed up when the President Casino closed in June. Officials from the company, which would operate as Celebration Casino, made their plans public for the first time on Monday to the St. Louis Development Corporation. A committee of the board will select which project it prefers, though that does not stop the second developer from also applying.

Koman's plan includes a $115 million, 120-thousand square foot facility, including 40-thousand square foot gaming floor and various other amenities. A 150-bed hotel could be added later if the market is right, Koman officials said. It's expected to generate $29.7 million for the state and $9.4 million for the city, more than making up for the revenue that disappeared when the President closed after a protracted licensing dispute with state gaming regulators. The company estimated that most of the revenue would be new dollars, not money recycled from other casinos in the state. Project manager Dan Farris told the selection committee that they expect to take most of its business from the Alton Belle, one of the original riverboats that Farris said had not made the major upgrades needed to be competitive.

Officials also said they expect the project to generate 700 construction jobs and 625 permanent jobs, and would set aside 50 percent of those for city residents.

Officials said the company is close to signing a memorandum of understanding with Great Rivers Greenway, which owns some of the property Koman needs to build the casino. Koman would upgrade the agency's bike path in the area, build a trail head with exterior bathrooms, and do needed maintenance to the Chain of Rocks Bridge, as well as set aside funds for ongoing upgrades. Koman is also working to purchase city-owned land south of the site.

Developers in Kansas City and Cape Girardeau are also vying for the 13th license. Interested parties have to apply by Sept. 1, and gaming regulators hope to award the license by the end of the year.