News Hits isn’t one to boast (yeah, right), but it seems last year’s prediction that riverfront casinos were a “dead issue” has turned out to be right on the money. The source of that item was tribe member Allard Teeple, who spent 12 years trying to bring casinos to Detroit on behalf of the Chippewas, the majority shareholders in the Greektown Casino. In an interview way back when, Teeple criticized the city for declaring that the casinos would go on the riverfront before the deal was sealed, saying the premature announcement would cause land prices to skyrocket.
He was right. And because of that, Mayor Dennis Archer was unable to deliver all of the 57 acres needed to accommodate the trio of casinos. Now he’s pushing to make the MGM Grand the east riverfront’s sole occupant. But most City Council members and leading mayoral candidates are not buying into the idea.
But Archer isn’t giving up, says spokesperson Greg Bowens. The mayor plans to present an amended development agreement to the council this fall. If approved, it would allow the Motor City and Greektown temporary casinos to stay put. As for MGM Grand, Bowens says it could begin building on the riverfront today if it wanted. Although MGM Grand declined to comment to News Hits, it previously indicated that it would look elsewhere rather than force the riverfront issue.
Archer only has himself to blame for this debacle, which may cost taxpayers millions of dollars if riverfront property owners sue the city for reneging on its plans. The mayor could have avoided this mess entirely. Mark Vincent, who owned the now-closed Rivertown Saloon and Franklin Street Brewing Company, told News Hits last year, shortly after the city announced plans to move the casinos to the riverfront, property owners offered to sell the 57 acres together to the city. But the city opted to obtain the land through eminent domain instead, which, of course, failed.Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]