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Greektown Casino Considering a $200-million, 35-story Tower With a
400 room Hotel on Top of a 3,100-space Parking Garage
in Downtown Detroit

By Greta Guest, Detroit Free Press
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 

Greektown Casino plan puts hotel atop garage

Approval from city needed to build $200-million tower

March 24, 2006 - Greektown Casino, beset by delays and obstacles in starting on its permanent casino complex, has a new plan that would stack a hotel on top of a 3,100-space parking garage on the edge of Greektown.

The casino hopes to gain approval from the City of Detroit for a $200-million, 33-to-35-story tower on the site of a municipal garage at St. Antoine and Monroe that it plans to purchase from the city.

The structure would include 13 floors of parking topped by 20 to 22 stories of hotel rooms, Greektown Casino spokesman Roger Martin said Thursday.

The casino has been looking around the district for enough land for both structures. A tentative deal to build the 400-room hotel on a church parking lot fell through.

A hearing on the casino's rezoning request is planned for April 6.

The Free Press reported in February that the casino was having trouble obtaining land for its hotel after a deal with the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral fell through.

"When we stepped back and looked at what was best from a marketing perspective and guest service, the plan we have is the best," Martin said. "They will be able to access the new hotel, the garage and the casino floor much better on this plan."

The hotel and parking garage structure also will be more visible from I-375, he said. It would be connected to the existing casino on the other side of Monroe by elevated moving sidewalks. A sketch of the new plan was unavailable Thursday.

Greektown Casino originally planned to build a $450-million casino and hotel complex on 7 acres at Gratiot and I-375. In September, the casino announced it was in negotiations to buy parcels in Greektown for the hotel and parking structures.

The Detroit City Council is expected to vote on the sale of the municipal garage to the casino in two weeks, said Councilwoman Alberta Tinsley-Talabi.

Once all approvals are obtained, the casino expects to begin demolishing the garage and an adjacent apartment building it has already purchased. If all goes as planned, the parking garage could be built late next year, and the hotel could be completed by mid-2008, Martin said.

The casino plans to add 25,000 square feet of gaming space with an addition to stretch over half of Lafayette Boulevard. The plans also call for a spa and a 1,200-seat theater.

The Greektown Casino construction, along with ongoing permanent casino and hotel projects at the city's two other casinos, would mark the biggest developments in the city since Ford Field opened in 2002 at a cost of $500 million.

Greektown's competitors, the MGM Grand Detroit Casino and the MotorCity Casino, started building permanent casinos and hotels months ago. MGM Grand Detroit is under construction on its site at the I-75 service drive and the Lodge Freeway, and MotorCity is building its hotel at the Lodge and Grand River.

Greektown Casino started behind them and has not been able to catch up. Its revenues trailed those of the other two casinos by nearly $100 million in 2005. Greektown Casino's late opening in November 2000, about a year after the others, gave its competitors a chance to build gambler loyalties. And, it lacks an attached parking garage, a necessary amenity in auto-centric southeastern Michigan.

Greektown's revenue grew nearly 5% in 2005 to $335.6 million. MGM Grand Detroit saw a 6.3% revenue rise to $460.7 million last year, and MotorCity saw a decline of nearly 1% in revenue to $432.2 million.

What they're doing

    * MGM Grand Detroit Casino plans to build an entirely new casino with 100,000 square feet and add a 17-story hotel with 401 rooms, a pool and spa. It also plans to build an eight-story self-parking structure.

    * MotorCity Casino started work on its $275-million casino hotel and conference center in November. The complex is expected to take 18 months to two years to complete. The 17-story, 400-room hotel will rise on a surface parking lot adjacent to the casino's parking deck and is expected to be up by late 2007.


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Copyright (c) 2006, Detroit Free Press

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