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ATLANTA-A proposed plan to revamp and develop the state’s first casino, in addition to a hotel destination at the Underground Atlanta project in the Downtown area has gained support from the City Council. In order for the $500 million proposal to move forward, the use of the 12.5 acre property, which currently serves as a tourist retail destination, must be approved by the board of directors of the Georgia Lottery Corp., says Dan O’Leary, partner of the entity that currently leases the city-owned property.

If given the go-ahead, Aderhold/O’Leary LLC would use private financing in order to commence a two-phase casino/hotel destination. Phase I would include a $50 million renovation to the existing infrastructure, which includes open-air and enclosed retail, to house 225,000 square feet of video lottery terminals and retail space. Phase II would include a 400-room hotel, an additional 100,000 square feet of VLT games and a large theater where Las Vegas-style shows would be performed. “It’s anticipated we would have phase I open for business within 12 months,” O’Leary tells GlobeSt.com. “Phase II is about three or four years down the road for opening.”

Aderhold/O’Leary, which acquired an 88-year lease hold interest on the property in 1999, is projecting the creation of 2,000 direct jobs with the development, not including construction work. “When you use a job multiplier it will create a total of 12,000 indirect and direct new jobs,” because of increased traffic in the surrounding area, explains O’Leary.

Each phase of the project is expected to generate $300 million annually, with half of that money going to education in Georgia. Specifically, the proceeds would fund the Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally scholarship and grant program, which rewards students with financial assistance if they attend public and private colleges in the state.

“I am optimistic that it will pass the Georgia Lottery Corp. due to the fact that it will secure the HOPE scholarship financing for the students of the state of Georgia,” says O’Leary, who is also confident in the success of the project overall. “The city of Atlanta has five million residents, the world’s busiest airport and country’s third largest convention center, which is located three blocks from Underground Atlanta.”

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