Indian Tribe Looks to Monroe, Ohio, for New Casino

A Native American tribe, searching to anchor a $250 million casino and entertainment complex in southwest Ohio

Casey said he has made contact with the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments to discuss the casino proposal.

National Capital I consists mainly of four principals: Botkins construction contractor Thomas Schnippel, Schnippel's wife Sharon Schnippel, as well as two Eastern Shawnee tribe members, Betty Watson and Marty Ellis.

The group already has plans to build a casino in Botkins, a Shelby County village about 75 miles north of Monroe. Casey and Becker said the proposed Monroe site will "complement," not replace, the planned Botkins development.

Becker said no building footprints have been established, but the approximately 150 acres site is well south of Monroe's existing Corridor Park and W.K. Robinson drives. The area, in which the tribe is interested, is roughly bisected by Butler-Warren Road east of I-75. Millers Creek runs through parts of it, and its northern edge runs roughly parallel with a Texas Eastern natural gas pipeline, Robinson said.

The tribe's targeted land fronts on I-75 for some two-thirds of a mile. The park has railway access, is served by a 27-inch sewer line and is within sight of a water plant, Robinson said.

"It meets all the criteria for an awesome development site," Robinson said.

Becker the location is ideal. "This is just so much better because you've got all these creative options," he said.

Main access to the development will be from Ohio 63, Robinson said, but he could not say exactly where that entrance will likely be. Today, Corridor Park Drive is the main entrance point from Ohio 63.

The property has been owned by Robinson, president of Middletown's Robinson Inc., and his partners since May 1996. The location has long been considered an industrial and commercial site.

In 1998, Taubman Centers Inc. approached Robinson about building a mall at the site, a project that has appeared to languish since. Robinson said he expects Taubman will have interest in retail possibilities tied to the Eastern Shawnee's casino and entertainment plans.

"This is something in which they (Taubman) will have a sincere interest," Robinson said.

Taubman executives could not be reached for comment.

Casey and Becker said Middletown city officials were very cooperative during their preliminary negotiations, which began in earnest last year. The tribe were interested in the area southeast of Ohio 122 and Union Road along I-75.

But Casey said once The Journal publicized the Eastern Shawnee's plans for Middletown in April, other area landowners and developers became interested -- and other options became apparent.

"The phone started ringing," Casey said.

Besides Middletown, the tribe also rejected ideas of locating in or near downtown Middletown and Middletown's Hook Field Municipal Airport. Traffic considerations and the area's distance from I-75 killed those ideas, Casey said.

Before settling on Monroe, added: "We probably looked at and evaluated 15 different locations over time."