Casino Development Plans in Ohio Also Include Hotel, Sky Tram, Office Park

MONROE, Ohio -- Conceptual drawings of a proposed casino development show much more than gambling.

Drawings of the proposed development southeast of Interstate 75 and Ohio 63 show three casino operations, a casino hotel, a sky tram, an office park, a 40-acre man-made lake and more.

The entire development is tentatively dubbed "Wild Creek at Monroe."

Middletown-area developer Leonard Robinson -- co-owner of the 150 acres of land on which the Eastern Shawnee of Oklahoma, an American Indian tribe, has an option to buy -- cautioned that the drawings from noted casino designer Lee Loveland offer general ideas only. But those ideas go beyond gaming.

"This gets us started," Robinson said Tuesday, hours before a planned presentation to Monroe City Council. "This allows us to look at what could happen conceptually."

Robinson has said the site could eventually draw up to $750 million in development and some 3,000 employees.

"You've got the land," said Terry Casey, a consultant for National Capital I, the tribe's Ohio casino development arm. "You're going to have the attractions."

Robinson said the tentative name "Wild Creek" can change. In total, the drawings from Loveland -- of the Seattle, Wash. area's Group West Companies -- concern nearly 800 acres.

One drawing shows "multiple casinos," adjacent to I-75 and south of Ohio 63, all linked to a hotel by interior and exterior paths, said Robinson, owner of Middletown's Robinson Inc. and co-owner of Corridor 75 Park, where the tribe wants to build.

Robinson likened the concept to Las Vegas.

"For someone who likes gaming, they will have several different opportunities at multiple casino sites on Eastern Shawnee land," Robinson said. "Our plan right now shows three (casinos)."

Said Casey, "It's basically one casino, but you might have three different names." He said each casino might offer its own variation, such as a non-smoking floor.

The land footprint of the casinos will take up about two to four acres of the tribe's overall 150 acres, Casey said.

Also featured in the conceptual drawing is a convention or event center on the south end of the development. In the drawings, an office park is northeast of the casinos.

Robinson said it was too soon to offer details about any of the proposed features, saying he received the drawings from Loveland only two weeks ago. He said he had no announcements about possible tenants or land purchases outside the tribe's optioned 150 acres.

Loveland stressed that the drawings are not final plans. "It's important that people don't take these too literally," he said.

Stormwater control on about 400 acres will make the creation of a 40-acre lake necessary, Robinson said. He envisions building a "fishing village" of specialty retail and dining businesses, as well as a "sporting lodge," around the eastern and southern sides of the lake, called in the drawings "Wild Creek Lake."

The lake would be east of existing Miller Creek, near Union Road.

"It will be an asset," Robinson said.

He also talks of creating an "authentic" Indian village in the heart of the development. The drawing shows an aerial tram, a trolley route, a nature retreat, a water park and more.

The gaming operations and many of the related developments are designed to draw baby boomers whose children are grown, Casey has said. In particular, those involved want to draw customers from outside Ohio.

Corridor 75 owners intend to conduct market research to determine who besides the tribe's casino operation might find a home on the property. Robinson expects the research to be completed by spring.

The location gives the tribe about two-thirds of a mile frontage on I-75 between Ohio 63 and an interstate rest stop.

Based in West Seneca, Okla., the Eastern Shawnee also wants to build a casino in Botkins, a village about 70 miles north of Middletown in Shelby County. Other than Bordertown Bingo, an electronic bingo parlor in West Seneca, Mo., the tribe has no gaming operations. The tribe also operates a library in Oklahoma and a bank in Missouri.

Charles Enyart, Eastern Shawnee chief, and fellow tribe representatives may visit Monroe to give the land a Native American blessing much as they did last summer at the Botkins site, Casey said.