|By Susan Erler, The Times, Munster,
Ind.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 26, 2007 - MICHIGAN CITY -- Blue Chip Casino officials showed off work Thursday on a $130 million hotel and convention center expected to open in late 2008.
Pilings sunk deep into the ground north of the casino will support the 22-story structure whose curved design and glass exterior will make it look "like a diamond in the sky," according to its designer Lucien Lagrange.
The hotel will tower above other Northwest Indiana landmarks and feature sweeping views of nearby Lake Michigan and penthouse suites on the top floors.
A 15,000-square-foot convention center is expected to host big-name entertainment acts from the Chicago area, Blue Chip Assistant General Manager Gary Sawina said.
The project also will include a new restaurant, a redesigned and enclosed entryway for Blue Chip and easier access to the casino from the roadway.
Lagrande said expects the project to lead to a "new birth" for Michigan City.
Work on the hotel began in March, and the exterior is expected to be finished by June 2008, Blue Chip officials said.
Blue Chip parent Boyd Gaming Corp. announced plans for the hotel a year ago, in the wake of the January 2006 debut of the new $170 million vessel that replaced a smaller Blue Chip riverboat.
The new casino proved a standout money-maker for Boyd, boasting a more than 16 percent revenue increase within its first 10 months.
Competition from the newly opened Four Winds Casino Resort in nearby New Buffalo, Mich., ate into Blue Chip's business in the months since Four Winds opened in early August.
Boyd officials said earlier they expect the new hotel and convention center to strengthen the property's competitive edge in the northern Indiana market.
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