The Board of Aldermen think they can hit it big with the Chain of Rocks Casino
The Board of Aldermen doubled-down on the city's efforts to replace the defunct President Casino, approving a measure at their meeting this morning that opens the door for developers to build a $134 million casino/hotel/concert venue near the Chain of Rocks Bridge in north St. Louis.
The Aldermen passed Board Bill 211 by a margin of 18-2, with two abstentions. The bill was sponsored by Dionne Flowers, whose second ward is home to the Chain of Rocks Bridge and proposed casino site.
Flowers said the project -- which is contingent on the Missouri Gaming Commission awarding the state's fourteenth and final gaming license to the developers at Casino Celebration LLC -- would create 625 permanent jobs, 700 temporary construction jobs and raise both $10 million dollars annually for the City and $29 million for the state. Flowers' second ward would also receive $200,000 each year to spend on "public improvements."
"We are hurting as a city," Flowers told the Board of Aldermen. "This will provide revenue. Not only what we lost from the President but also extra money to meet [our] budget needs."
"The marshes and wetlands will not be disturbed," she said, noting that the proposed site is a former landfill. "There is a migratory bird flyway nearby, but this part of the development will not harm that area."
If the Gaming Commission gives the license to another developer -- the agency's announcement is scheduled for December 1 and other candidates include sites in Cape Girardeau and Kansas City -- Great Rivers Greenway would have the first right of refusal to purchase the Chain of Rocks property. If the Chain of Rocks location is in fact chosen for the final license, Great Rivers gets $35,000 to expand and maintain hiking and bike trails in the surrounding area.
Additional funding would go toward overhauling nearby streets Halls Ferry Circle, North Broadway and Hall Street to deal with the expected increase in traffic coming from Interstate-270.
Fifteenth ward alderwoman Jennifer Florida cast one of the two votes against the bill. She cited concerns about declining casino revenues in the St. Louis area and questions about who would foot the bill for the road improvements.
"Clearly I'm not opposed to 600 jobs," Florida told reporters after the meeting. "But this is the gaming commission's decision, not the Board of Alderman's."
Marlene Davis, alderwoman for the nineteenth ward, disagreed. "This city must become more entrepreneurial," Davis said during the meeting. "We must look at every opportunity to bring jobs and revenue at any level."