DETROIT-The deadline for Detroit to acquire riverfront land for three permanent casinos has been extended by a year. The city previously had until Dec. 31, 2000 to buy the land from the owners and clear themoff, to prepare for the construction of the gaming houses onthe riverfront, but Detroit didn’t have enough time to buy and prepare the 60 acres of land, according toMayor Dennis Archer. The three permanent developments, represented by three opentemporary casinos in the city, are expected to cost more than $2 billion toconstruct on 100 acres along the river.

Archer was recently able to convince the Detroit City Council to give him anotheryear, until Dec. 31, 2001, to bring the land together.”It had become obvious that it would be physically impossible to close onthe remaining businesses and move them to another location,” says Archer’sspokesman Greg Bowens.The extension was approved by the council by a 6-3 vote. It’sfortunate, says Bowens, because the license that allows the temporarycasinos to stay open would have been voided if the deadline wasn’t met.

The Greektown Casino, the MGM Grand Casino and the MotorCity Casino havealready opened temporary facilities in the city, and are reportedly earning$1 million a day each. Each hoped to build large permanent casinos, withrestaurants and hotels included, by 2003. This extension may push theopening date back until at least 2004, or even a year later. The casinosexpect to earn 40% more once their permanent facilities are up,Bowens says.He says only two small groups remain to negotiate with to complete theacquisition for the entire parcel.

“Our negotiations have ebbed and flowed. We hear that we may reach a dealsometime in the next four to five months,” he notes.Land owners have jacked up their prices and hired attorneys tonegotiate high settlement prices for the now-popular parcels of property.Bowens said he has to keep quiet about how much the city is paying those who have made a deal so the remaining owners don’t learn how much they received.

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