Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

After Floods, Casinos Rethink River Sites

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

After Floods, Casinos Rethink River Sites

Article excerpt

Concerned about frequent floods on the St. Louis riverfront, gambling boat owners and developers are toying with an idea that has worked elsewhere:

Put the boats in a giant bathtub alongside the river, rather than on it.

In Kansas City, Harrah's Casino floats alongside the Missouri River in a concrete basin that's 400 feet long and 150 feet wide, enclosed by 16-foot-tall concrete walls. To get onto the boat, gamblers use gangplanks that go up and down with the river level.

Some floodwater, with mud and debris, got into the basin. "But it worked well. We were able to stay open and keep operating," said Matt Palmer, Harrah's marketing services representative.

Locally, two groups are considering something similar:

St. Louis Entertainment Ventures, the Chicago-based group selected by the city of St. Louis in May to develop a second gambling boat on the riverfront, just north of Laclede's Landing. The firm cites safety reasons.

The President Casino on the Admiral, closed for more than 40 days this year by spring floods. It also was shut down for months in 1993. Casino attorney Michael Lazaroff cites "some kind of controlled mooring system" that could be similar to Harrah's.

The Admiral owners also have given the city a new plan for moving north of Eads Bridge, near the city's floodwall. The spot would be just north of where St. Louis Entertainment Ventures has proposed to put a boat.

As part of the proposal, the Admiral owners said they would build a parking garage and an entertainment barge with restaurants and shops.

The boat-in-a-bathtub idea already is proposed in St. Louis County, by developers seeking to put gambling boats in Lemay and Maryland Heights.

Larry Bushong, the city's top development official who oversees riverfront development, said city officials have yet to get any specific proposals. He emphasized that any solution to the riverfront's flood problems has to look good, too.

During a closed session Tuesday, Bushong briefed the Port Commission on terms of a lease agreement he said the city has reached with Entertainment Ventures. …

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