|By Mary Perez, The Sun Herald, Biloxi,
Miss.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 26, 2010--The Mississippi Gaming Commission gave site approval for the CanCan Casino in D'Iberville at its meeting Thursday in Jackson.
At a press conference afterwards in Biloxi, the developer described the casino resort as "sassy" and said the plan includes developing the adjacent French Marketplace in D'Iberville's downtown, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
Joseph Manno, president of CanCan Development Inc., will be in New York next week working to complete financing agreements with underwriters to build the $250 million casino and the $200 million French Marketplace.
"We're not standing on the sidelines. We're doing this," Manno said.
The 5-acre casino site is east of Interstate 110 and Central Avenue on the Back Bay.
While the French Marketplace will be developed separately, Manno said the casino resort can share amenities, including an amphitheater, on the fringes of the 36-acre marketplace site.
Francis Xavier Dumont, who designed the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and more than a dozen other casinos, is the architect for both projects. The casino's modern design has wavy roof lines, a hotel tower with exterior elevators that look out over the city and a step-back design to give every room views of the bay.
The developers have purchased the casino site from Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Manno said the developers have made offers on additional land and expect to make more offers.
They hope to start construction by the end of the year and finish in 16 to 18 months. He estimated the casino will employ at least 1,100 people.
Manno said a 3 percent increase in the state casino tax proposed by Rep. Kelvin Buck, D-Holly Springs, is untimely when financing is so difficult to get but wouldn't be a deal breaker. This is his fourth try to build a casino in the Biloxi/D'Iberville market. Plans for the Havana Casino in East Biloxi were washed away by Katrina, and Manno said he walked away from the other two. D'Iberville Mayor Rusty Quave attended the Gaming Commission meeting to explain the significance of the development to the city, which has been courting several casinos for more than a decade.
The casino will complement the shopping centers on the interstate and anchor the downtown, Quave later said.
With the proposed parking garages and Coast Transit Authority hub, people will be able to walk around the French Marketplace and stop at local shops and restaurants.
"I see it every day in my dreams," he said.
Before they voted, the Gaming Commission asked if there is room in the Coast market for new casinos. Lyle Berman, former owner of the Grand Casinos on the Coast, said this is a good market for people who are "skilled and daring."
Quave later said, "We don't want to take any business from anyone on the Coast," but grow the tourist market for the area.
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