Ned O'Connor, president of Waterford Property Co. LLC, helpedthe village of 3,000 people set up the land for the park, and thenacted as the consultant for the property's sale. He says the sleepytown never knew what hit them after Argosy Casino decided to locatethere, but that the village figured getting land ready for moredevelopment was a priority. "They've this incredible revenue comingin, and they're on the river, so they bought 700 acres of vacantground that used to be a flood plain. Then, they built this$120-million levy around the ground, primarily to protect the city,which did have a flood in 1993. Then, they struggled with what todo with the property."

He says he joined the project in 2005, and helped get a$40-million interchange on I-635. "That really brought the projectto life," O'Connor tells "They also built almost ahighway off the interchange, four lanes wide."

However, he says the village realized that to have it developedright, a professional company would need to do it. "They took theproperty to the marketplace to get one private developer," he says."They could have broken it into pieces and got more money, but in asingle entities' hands, the quality of the park would be better."Last spring, the village received 35 proposals from companies from12 different states, O'Connor says. "A lot of institutionsanswered, they had the financial wherewithal, but no developmentexperience. A lot of developers didn't have money. Block hadboth."

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